OMG I was so stressed out. I had a million errands to do before meeting Nancy at the climbing gym: post office… liquor store… vacuum bag store (yes, I have this special vacuum that I can only find bags for at one store in SLC)… Whole Foods… bank… the electronics recycling center… UPS… hardware store… a special “local” olive oil store. How did this happen? How did my life become so complicated? I was driving around town in the Gypsy Van and as I anxiously waited for a never-ending red light, I noticed a laundromat on the right. I remembered that I had been wanting to wash the dog-hair-infested throw rug that was in the van. Because it just didn’t seem like I had enough things to do, I impulsively pulled into the parking lot and grabbed the filthy rug.
As I rummaged around the van trying to find enough coins (this was harder than it used to be) or even cash, I mentally plotted out what I would do with the time it took for the wash cycle to complete. Run over to the post office? Buy a bottle of tequila? Deposit an insurance refund check for $57 that I’d had in my wallet for three months. Get my favorite organic yogurt? Drop off the box of old modems and VCR? The lines on my forehead deepened as I pondered the most efficient use of time.
I pushed through the door and, almost immediately, was taken away from the day’s chaos (Ommmm…) thanks to the gentle, rhythmic tumbling of the dryers, the spinning, swishing, and rinsing of the washers, the luxurious smell of clean clothes, and the sight of stacked magazines, Readers Digests and a stand-up video game. I was flooded with nostalgia and hundreds of memories of doing laundry on the road. Back in the day, before I had a house and a real(ish) series of jobs, rest days from climbing meant just that: rest, relaxation and, often times, laundry.
The best laundromats had some other useful store (a canned food outlet for example), cheap burrito joint, or quiet payphone in the vicinity. I remember the Joshua Tree laundromat was next to the heath food store. The Curry Village laundry meant showers, too! C-More Laundry in Squamish had one of the best views, and I’ll never forget the characters I’ve encountered in the various Vegas laundromats (now there’s something everyone should experience at some point in their life) during extended Red Rock stays. Later, it became looking for laundry near an internet café and more recently, just a decent 3G cell signal.
But there was always laundry, and the sweet satisfaction of one of life’s most underrated extravagances: clean clothes. But more importantly, I think, time to take the time to just sit. And that’s exactly what I did on this day. I sat in front of the washer and watched it, like one watches a campfire, for the next 23 minutes. As the hypnotic drone of the machines eased away my day’s anxiety a quiet smile drifted onto my face as I found myself reminiscing about all the wonderful road trips from my past, and looking forward to the years and years of more road trips – and more rest days at laundromats.
Sweet poster in the Sugarhouse Laundromat. Photo: Brittany’s iPhone