The pipes in our gray water system froze solid this winter. That means no downstairs shower, sink, or washing machine. So yesterday we packed up three bags of dirty clothes and took ‘em to the Laundromat. It was gorgeous – 65 and sunny in Boulder. Sun soaked into the south walls of every building in town, and people gravitated toward them like cold blooded creatures. The sky was the wide-open blue of spring.
It’s been a decade since I went to a Laundromat. I remember the last time – we watched some poor college kid overdo the soap in his machine and stand there embarrassed as suds poured through the seal in the door and crept across the vinyl floor like a 50s horror creature.
There’s something intimate about the Laundromat. You see strangers’ underwear. You see how messy their piles of clothes are, how neat they fold (or fail to fold), how they spend their time while the loads roll around. Everyone is captive to the machines’ steady progress.
The sun slipped lower, and the back of the building warmed like stone. We found an old plastic table out there. Next to it a trashcan stuffed to the brim, which I wheeled into a corner. We settled in to a view of broken asphalt and backdoors. Power lines and empty lots. Old cars and dumpsters. The hum of cars on the streets around us ebbed and flowed like breath, and our clothes slowly came clean.