The better part of a Sunday

I was going to do laundry today, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Laundry (when I went away to college and it became my responsibility) has always been a hassle, a most unpleasant chore. I must have angered some laundry deity, to have been cursed with such laundry mishaps as I have been.

In particular, my final year in Cambridge was a laundry nightmare: the laundry room closest to my accommodation was closed for construction. As a result, I was forced to carry my pillow-case of dirty clothes through a lovely path in the back of King’s, over the river, across the street, through a locked gate, past a garden, and into another student accommodation, outside of the college gates.

All through October and November I grumbled and complained, but the real trouble came with winter. Since I had more interesting things to do than watch my clothes spin, I would go back to my room to get some work done while waiting for the wash to finish. In the winter, however, laundry-day would become, well, a day almost entirely devoted to laundry. I’d put on my sweater and coat and wool socks and boots and hat and scarf and gloves. I’d lug my pillow-case to the laundry room, start the cycle, and head back. Once inside my room again, I’d take off my sweater and coat and wool socks and boots and hat and scarf and gloves. And then I’d sit down at my desk, open my laptop, check the time. Then I’d stand up, put on my sweater and coat and wool socks and boots and hat and scarf and gloves, and walk back to the laundry room to get my clothes before some other student eager to get clean clothes empties that laundry machine and dumps my newly-washed sheets on the floor. So I’d move the wet clothes to the dryer, start the cycle, and head back. Once inside my room again,… well, you get the picture.

One particularly busy day, I thought of a way to salvage laundry-day, and actually do some studying. So I packed my laptop and some papers in my backpack, and I put on my sweater and coat and wool socks and boots and hat and scarf and gloves. I lugged my pillow-case (and backpack) to the laundry room, started the cycle, and sat down on a couch right outside the door. I got out my laptop, opened it, and… right, hardly any wifi. That wasn’t a problem though—I’d brought some papers I’d already printed. I could just read those. So I took out the papers, and some highlighters and got to work. The lamps in the room were very dim, but there was still just enough afternoon light by which to read.

I got through a few paragraphs, took some notes, and struggled some more with the wifi. Then I moved my wet clothes to the dryer, and returned to the couch.

Suddenly, the wind began to howl, accompanied by the percussion of sheets of rain slamming onto the roof and whipping the ground. I looked up at the window—the sky turned black. So much for reading. Well, at this point, there was no point in heading back to my room, I’d only get wet, and then would get more wet coming back for my clothes. Maybe by the time my clothes had dried, the storm would ease up.

So I waited, spending the time wrestling with the wifi. Finally, just before the drying cycle finished, the webpage loaded, and I could check my email. Here is what I read (paraphrased):

“Dear Students,

Thanks to your 600-year-old windows that wont close, you are probably all aware by now that there is a storm. The wind has already knocked down one tree—luckily no one was squashed. To prevent any potential future squashings from hypothetical falling trees, we are closing the back entrance and path into College until the storm has abated.

On second thought, we’re going to close that entrance for, like, another week, because there are some heavy branches that have been broken by the wind, but have not yet fallen.

Now, get back to work!
Sincerely,
Some Important People at King’s”

At least my laundry was done. I emptied the contents of the dryer into my pillow-case, grabbed my backpack, and set out to find an alternate route home. Trudging through ankle-deep mud and fighting the wind, I made my way out of the garden. Straight ahead lay the closed path leading to my dry warm room (or, as dry and warm as the 600-year-old windows would allow). Instead, I turned right, to take a circuitous route through town. There I was, legs covered in mud, overstuffed pillow-case on my shoulder, and what I’d like to think was a pretty fearsome scowl on my face. I think I was too wet and miserable to even feel self-conscious lugging my laundry all through town.

By the time I finally got back to my room, my laundry (so recently fresh and warm from the dryer) was as soaked as the rest of me. Worn out and frustrated, I peeled off the layers of drenched winter clothes, snuggled into fleece pyjamas, and decided to do no more work that evening. I’d suffered enough already. Needless to say, I did no more laundry until the back path was re-opened.

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In my current New York apartment, laundry remains a necessary evil and a constant battle, requiring most of a weekend day and careful planning (especially when some older lady who separates her laundry into three loads takes up all the available washing machines). I postpone it till the last possible day, when I’m down my “emergency”underwear. And when I go home for the holidays, I pack light, to leave space for a bag of laundry, which I (read: my mom) can wash with the luxury of our just-a-step-away laundry machine.

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I suppose I shouldn’t complain, lest the laundry deities hear and decide to punish me further. I can’t even imagine what would happen if I had to actually go to a laundromat, rather than simply to the basement…

Only for those who share the sentiment …

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