“A laundromat? Seriously?” said a friend of mine the other day.
He apologized right away. That is, after I said:
“Are you judging me because I use a laundromat, or because I’m not ashamed of it?”
Here’s the thing: in between success and failure, glamour and an old bathrobe, a laundry room and a laundromat, I like to think there lies in me a hard-working mom with one job, no car, a few too many debts, and a certain graceful resilience.
Here’s my secret: it’s been a relentless struggle to get to the next birthday. I clawed and persevered and got up when I didn’t feel like it and smiled when I was screaming inside until somehow I made it to 45.
It was easy when I was a six-year-old girl skipping down the street in late summer’s first day of school, first day of hope.
It was hard when I was a seven year old running away from the pebble-laced snow-face-washes from the bigger kids at school, finally reaching the safety of the porch to find – wearing my wet pants – a locked door, and after an eternity of knocking, a disapproving (drunk) mom.
It was joyous when I climbed the playground jungle gym with my kids – shouting Marco! Polo! (They taught me that game.)
But for too long it was viscous and slimy, like swimming in jello. It was laying on the sofa, head aching, all of them clamouring for PB&J like little birds with their mouths wide open, incessantly chirping, and I helpless, spent, numb, fighting the darkness with the words of that wise old Scottish lullaby:
“Hee-oh wee-oh what shall I do with you?/Black’s the life that I lead wi’you….”
After a while – too long perhaps – I learned to just sink into it.
Just – let it in.
If I get up and go through the motions every day. If I write it all down. If I allow it to be. If I open wide and swallow that jello. Just gulp it all down. Accept the blackness as an old dear friend.
I found out – the hard way – that giving up the struggle is half the battle.
And, eventually, in between the British Red lipstick and drunken dance floor foolishness; slow-acting SSRIs and escapes to the mountains; headache days in sweatpants and smart skirt suits at the office …
I found out there lies, between the darkness and the light: a poet, a writer, a traveler, a climber, an adventurer, a seductress …
The Mayor of Cook St. Village Laundromat.
“Laundromat” Sylvar @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.
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