One of the things I worried about most when considering moving into 282 square feet was the laundry.
When we lived in the farmhouse in Arlee, we were surrounded by five acres of rolling pasture that led to mountains in every direction. Our laundry pile inside the house mirrored those mountains in scale. We had a mud room with a washer and dryer that I handpicked while very pregnant with Lucille. Eliza would ride in the orange Home Depot cart while I trolled the aisles of appliances. We’d head home and I’d look up model after model in Consumer Reports hoping to find the right combination of size, fit and durability to wash load after load of diapers from, not one baby, but two. I was into cloth diapers, then, and washed them at home. Why? Still not sure. But I needed a washer/dryer that could take it and when two strong-backed men delivered these giant appliances to my house, I got my giant self into the laundry room and washed all day. For a Virgo, the laundry room is a pretty happy place. For a pregnant Virgo, it’s just this side of nirvana.
But when Lucille was born her little bum didn’t quite take to cloth diapers and she, unknowingly, delivered me from another eighteen months of servitude. I carried her, red butt and all, into Costco and bought two of the biggest boxes of disposable diapers they had. One in her size, one in her sister’s. My grandmother had been telling me for the better part of two years that disposable diapers were God’s gift to mothers and I had stubbornly ignored her. After a few weeks I knew she was right and I never looked back.
Laundry Mountain was no longer Everest, for a while, then I started making jokes about base camp again as the kids grew bigger and so did their clothes. The mountain metaphor was too much of a parallel and we talked often of false summits and weather blowing us off the face.
Even in a normal sized house, it felt as though we were never on top of the laundry and if we were, by some fluke, it only lasted about 20 minutes and then some small person would throw something muddy in the dirty laundry basket and the cycle would start all over again.
In 282 we have no washer or dryer. But we still have grubby kids. I worried as we embarked on this adventure that our laundry would take over our entire living space and without a washer or dryer we’d have to move into a tent in the yard. I’m only halfway kidding.
One day I was driving home from the university where I work and I passed Sparkle Laundromat. I made a mental note to check the place out when I saw a sign in the window. “We wash, dry and fold! Priced by the pound!” Really, I thought. I can just take them my dirty clothes and they’ll wash them for me? I would totally pay someone to do our laundry. You’d have to pay me A LOT to do someone else’s laundry. It has to be so expensive, I thought.
Turns out, not really. We do, after all, live in a college town.
I took our first load in and came back a day later to a bag of perfectly laundered and folded clothes. It was kind of revolutionary.
Steve Earle sings “my baby sparkles and shines” and every time I walk out of Sparkle Laundromat I’m singing the same tune substituting “my laundry,” of course. I’m a dork, I know, but for now Sparkle has saved me in numerous ways and it’s cause for a little singing.