It’s 9:00 a.m. — well, all right, it’s actually a quarter to ten to be exact — but I was here at The Coin-o-Rama Laundromat on Harbord Street at 9:15 this morning. I had written this little trip to the Big Washing Machines in my agenda for today so I had to do it, right? I don’t come to the laundromat often since I moved to Oh Canada. One of the good things that I will say about the Murmuring Ex-Husband is that he found this apartment with a washer and dryer tucked into a closet just like on HGTV. It was one of my happiest discoveries when I came here.
All my days in DC, I had to trudge up to Mt. Pleasant Street in all kinds of weather with my laundry cart full of dirty underwear and sheets and towels. I would put off going until there was nothing left in the cupboard or drawers to wear and not a clean towel or sheet to be had. Then I would brave the weather and pull my over-loaded wire cart down all twelve of the front stairs and then up the three blocks to the International Laundromat. I always went in the daytime. It wasn’t safe to hang out there after dark, believe you me. But, no matter what time of the day, you had to hang out or risk loosing your clothes. Folks would stop by looking for particularly nice shirts or tea towels or striped sheets or whatever else they wanted or could sell on the street. So any unattended dryer or washer was their clothes rack. They used the International Laundromat as their very own shopping mall.
One day I was there, sitting on the table (there were no chairs) innocently reading a book when this guy came in and opened my washer. I said, “Whoa, man,” I talked like that in DC, “Those are my clothes.” He looked at me and said, “Sister, you are wrong. These are mine.” What could I do but sit and watch him as he pulled every pair of jeans I owned out of that washer and put them into his bag, daring me to object. I thought my inaction wise since he was carrying a bulgy item in his pocket — No, Mae, he was not happy to see me. I always suspected that the “attendant,” sitting in his bulletproof glass enclosure, was involved with these guys. I think he let them know when potential suckers with good clothes were present. Maybe he was their fence? You know what they say about laundromats…. The International Laundromat was one of the few things I did not miss about my old neighbourhood when I moved away.
The Coin-O-Rama is nothing like that. It is run by very busy, chattering Koreans, who keep the place clean and not exactly inviting but certainly not a terrible place to sit for an hour or so. There are even nicely placed tables so you can people watch while washers spin. All they need is a complementary Earl Grey tea (I need one right now) to make it very tolerable, indeed.
I am here this morning to as part of my Be-Gone-Winter campaign. Last week I was here washing my Why-Would-Anyone-Buy-A-White-Winter Coat and a much more practical blue jacket. Today it is all those cat schmattas, and one of the blankets from
the bed — which is covered in enough cat hairs for them to take ownership of that too. I can’t quite wash all winter away today since the temperature dropped this week and I need my blankey on my bed at night. As I write, everything is rumbling its way to clean and, one can hope, hairless splendour. It’s all good.
There is something very Capricorian-pleasing about laundromats and being able to get rid of all that dirt and hair in one fail swoop. It is almost instant gratification — except for the walk up-and-back with my little cart and Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha backpack carrying this iPad and the soap. I looked ridiculous but I didn’t care, I seldom do. Last week, my friend Steven was here to garden and convinced me that it was ok for me to walk up the street to buy plants in my sweaty, old, big, “I Am word Perfect” t-shirt and, god forbid, shorts. Of course, we had to run into the one neighbour who I most wanted to avoid. But, if that didn’t bother me, then what’s a backpack?
I actually love this spring ritual of mine of washing and packing away all the itchy, heavy, warm, cuddly stuff of winter even if it means going back to the laundromat. You see, I know that once the last mitt and sweater and scarf and cat schmatta is put away I don’t have to think about wearing those layers and layers of clothes and the awful dark days and scary icy sidewalks — for a few months at least. That’s something to definitely be happy about. Bring on the gardening.