The last time I did something like this was… actually I can’t recall, but it’s been more than a few years. My apartment doesn’t have laundry facilities, and so, since moving in five months ago, I’ve been depending on the kindness of friends to get my clothes clean, until today.
This morning, I sorted my laundry and stuffed all that I could into a 60-litre backpack, the same backpack I heaved over the Chilkoot Trail 15 years ago. Protected from the downpour by my super-sized umbrella, I embarked on a ten-block trek to the nearest the laundromat, which happens to be called, My Beautiful. The entire load fit into something called a “triple load machine”, and cost me twelve quarters. The attendant was not only attentive, but really nice. Exchanging my toonies for quarters, she showed concern for my cold fingers. “I think it’s reynaud’s syndrome,” I said as we inspected my corpse-like appendages.
The laundromat is on the corner of a busy intersection. Not busy with pedestrians, but with traffic. And since coffee culture overfloweth in Vancouver, there’s a café. It’s one of those hipster ones where if you’re lucky the person serving will be nice to you, but since the coffee is really good, you take that risk of walking out of there feeling less of a person. After throwing my clothes in the washing machine, I dashed over and to get myself a latte, a big one in hopes that it would last me for most of my stay. The barista was nice to me, too. He even knew my name, which is odd because I’m almost certain I hadn’t mentioned it.
Back in the steamy warmth of the laundromat, I plant myself on the room-for-three (but I hope no more than two) black leather sofa; my toes are still numb from the walk. I like that I’m seated on leather; it’s hygienic. Most of the machines are new, well half of them anyway. One wall has three giant windows, which brighten the space despite the dreariness outside. The clock way up near the ceiling reads 9:50. Folks are flooding in, vying for machines. I note the high ration of men to women, not that I’m here to find a date. To be honest, none of these guys are attractive, nor, I imagine, do they own a washer and dryer.
The smell is pleasant enough, dryer sheets and Tide detergent. Hanging above the section with the crappy washers is a large flat screen TV that’s showing 100 Huntley Street. It’s been muted, thankfully. What’s most pleasant is the drone of the dryers, which has put me into a sort of trance. I’m wondering if I should hang out here more often because not only are my clothes getting clean, but the surroundings are strangely inspiring, and I got some exercise by carting my stuff here.
My tranquil state shatters suddenly when the doors fling open shooting a chill through the room. I turn my head to see a cute little girl with a dark brown bob, bangs parted in the middle, strut into the room. She’s wearing green floral tights and a pink and white striped dress underneath a shiny down-filled coat.
It is here that my romanticizing of the laundromat ends.
Her wide-spaced eyes are shining as she does a quick scan of the room. I watch as she skips over to a stand in front of a dryer where the swirl of fabrics momentarily mesmerizes her. Having had enough of the spinning clothes, she plops herself down next to me. I attempt to keep my focus on writing this, and I succeed, until she breaks out in song. Her high-pitched renditions of “Happy Birthday” fill the heated air. I wonder if it’s her birthday. Regardless, she loves belting out the tune and does so repeatedly. Her singing drowns the lull of the dryers and her cuteness disintegrates like laundry detergent in hot water. Glancing at the little square window on my dryer, I’m relieved to discover I only have 2 minutes to go.