The Way We Live Now #13: Writing in Laundromats

This should be titled, “The Way We Lived Then.”

In the Before Times, I’d sometimes to go a laundromat and write.

Sometimes it was out of necessity. On vacation, I’d need to do a load of laundry. The sound of the machines–the churn of the washer, the steady soft thump of the driers–created an ambiance like the murmur of an ocean, or a soft rain. The places are always a little humid, and there is the smell of clean, warm fabric.

Laundromats are good places to watch human interactions, but mostly, for me, it’s a place to put words on paper, or on a screen.

Mostly, laundromats, like bus depots, train terminals, and airports, are transitional spaces. When you’re in one, you’re suspended, on your way from one point to another. Nothing else is usually demanding your attention. (The way we live now, I suppose this isn’t true–people may be sitting in the laundromat doing day job work or attending a Zoom call, wearing their masks.)

The other thing about laundromats though–no offense–is that they aren’t picturesque. They usually don’t offer good snacks or beverages. In short, there’s not a lot there to distract.

Two years ago our drier broke. In the week before the repair guy could come out, I went to one of our three local laundromats. I got a lot of writing done!

To be blunt, as restrictions lift, the first “alternate location” I’m going to pick will NOT be a laundromat. It will be a coffee house or a cafe, no doubt about it. But I won’t forget that alternate transitional space, and the smell of clean clothes.

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