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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Laundromats

So I've had a life-long obsession with laundromats. Actually, Laundromat is a trademarked term, so I should actually just say "laundry." (And I know that because I'm obsessed.)

As a kid, we'd go into town once a week or so, family-time, to wash the clothes. It was the most exotic place to me. First we'd stop by the Dairy Palace for a treat. Dilly bars, lime-flavored slushes, everything they had was amazing compared to the carob chips I sometimes ate for snacks.

The laundry was old and small. Katie and I would run around collecting used lint sheets, hiding under the folding tables, and sometimes, if the adjoining door was open, peeking into the dry cleaner that was attached. I remember, back then, the lint sheets were fluffy pieces of foam. The dry-cleaning steam press was an enormous, amazing piece of machinery. There was something elegantly ordered about the neatly pressed clothes hanging on the moveable clothes bars.

And the dryer smell! It's always been comforting to me.

In college, needing extra money, I got a job at the laundry and dry cleaners across the street from my apartment. Forget the money--it was primarily because of the beautiful hippie boy who worked there. He wove me a hemp necklace one day as my clothes swirled and sloshed in the machines behind us. I got free dry cleaning if I stuck my sweaters in with each load, and I became addicted to the steam press. I never looked so neat and presentable as the 4 months I worked there.

In the end, screaming kids, a steady influx of clothing needing attention, and late nights prevented me from reading my Shakespeare homework during my shifts, and I had to quit. But it has always been one of my favorite jobs.

Then I moved to Chicago and fell in love with every single dingy, divey laundry I'd pass on the bus. There was one in Andersonville, the Swedish/Middle Eastern neighborhood, that was--oddly--an Indian laundry. Djani. It was teeny--big enough for one wall of machines. By then big chain laundries were springing up everywhere: Spin Cycle, or some such. No romance there. None of the dust and steam, lost clothes and plants everywhere.

I took a photography class at Northwestern, continuing ed. After, I wanted to embark on a project--taking pictures of the old laundries. I never did. I still want to.

I am thankful every day that my apartment has its own washer and dryer. The apartment complex grounds has about 30 spread-out buildings, so any communal washing would be a trek from the apartment across the lawn. But laundromats are still magical.

2 Comments:

Blogger duckierose said...

I, too, have the romantic inclinations. For three years of my life, my bed was in the laundry room. The smell of the drier will alwyas give me a sense of security. Younger still, with our weekly trip to the Chief, with washing machines and a giant wooden statue of an indian, and a hollowed out tree I wasn't allowed to go near. *sigh*

3:25 PM  
Blogger Link said...

can u please spread the word about my blog to gmers. it's goldengamer.

6:16 PM  

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