Thursday, July 30, 2015

All for the sake of washing my clothes

     Good old Murphy’s Law can knock the socks off you when you are tired and your resistance is down.
     Take the washing machine incident.

     I was returning home from a solo trip, and after a lengthy   airport delay before the last leg   — I won’t bore you with the details  — the early morning hour had my head rotating like the final spin cycle on the washer’s dial.
     All I wanted to do was hit the bed, and get a start on releasing jet lag’s grip. How grateful to have my husband navigating the traffic for my eyes were too blurry to follow passing road signs.   
      We talked in snatches about the highlights of my trip and a smattering of news, all of which went in one ear and out the other.

     Realizing that he had a small window of opportunity, my husband wisely waited until about halfway home when there was a lag in conversation to break the news: the washing machine died.
     He assured me that he had gotten a note from the repairman as proof of his innocence stating that in no way did he have anything to do with the machine’s demise. I laughed at his feeble attempt at humoring me, and gave him credit for trying to ease me into reality.
     My husband knows how to operate the washer. He went on to explain the problem in technical terms. I didn’t care. It made no sense. All I heard was “dead.”
     I slumped further into the car seat thinking about an entire suitcase filled with dirty clothes that needed washing the next day. My coping skills momentarily were out to dry.
     It’s not the worst calamity in the world, and it could be solved. I took a couple deep breaths and realized that I would be out and about to the appliance store the next morning purchasing a new one. Sigh.

     If the store had the exact model, then it wouldn’t be too long before it could be delivered and installed. I could hold off and sort through the dreadful stack of mail instead.
     During my trip I had kept up with the passing of an elderly acquaintance here, and other challenging issues from a family member another state away. The latter one was troublesome, and no new appliance would straighten it out. Sometimes it is good to acknowledge that our petty little problems are insignificant considering what others have on their plates.
     Now is the time to reveal something about my nature. You see I am not an ordinary person with a desire to keep control of the laundry piles. Doing laundry is a pleasurable experience that I enjoy much more than any other household task. Washing never gets the best of me, and the more piles to sort through, the merrier I become by nature.
     A highly- efficient machine with all the bells and whistles is as important to me as a Cuisinart mixer to a gourmet cook.
    Could it be that somehow I have felt that in another life I must have been an Irish washerwoman  — I have no Irish roots — and poured sweat and tears over batches of laundry piles scrubbing with muscle power and with red-ripened hands?

     Once I wrote about my imagined life taking in washing from others to feed my wee ones, and the words rolled off the page like beads of water hitting the tumbler. It sounded such the perfect role.
     Here’s a flash bit of fiction that resonates in my soul.
     I am a red-nosed sniveling Irish washerwoman balancing loads of other people’s dirty linens between wooden tubs of lukewarm soapy suds and clear rinse water.
     Two Hail Mary’s and a dunk bless the residues of last night’s pub covering the front of the shirt. Strong fingers stained with bleach and dyes have reduced my nails to crumbling nothings, yet my work has value considering the immense secrets that I scrub away on the metal board back and forth, back and forth, until the sun stands directly overhead.
    I feel into the worn fibers smelling a scent of new birthing up out of the baptismal font cleansed of Da’s childhood beatings, or whatever tale of woe that has slipped away in the slop of the dirty bucket.
     When I fold the faded coarse shirt with a firm pat from the palm of my hand I am calculating all the while dropping an Irish twenty pence or two into the till on the window ledge, thank you very much. Your life is safe in mine. I praise be to the sun, moon and another bowl of stew on the table tonight for my wee darlins’.

     I never had to be told as a child to collect my dirty clothes and help with the laundry. I was Johnny-on-the spot, ready and able while most kids ran the other way. We didn’t have a dryer in those days, and I would hang around my mother long enough to put the clothes out on the line to dry outside – I got a crate to stand on to reach the line  — before going off to play. Occasionally I would wander back feeling the drying progress, and I would help take down and fold the freshly scented clothes.
     All’s well that end’s well. My new washing machine was in operation forty-eight hours later, and my clothes and I were not permanently wrinkled in despair. I am thankful also for believing in shopping locally for sales and service.
     A brief glitch in the machinery, and I have moved on handling the heavy-duty load of problems.