On Sundays I do laundry if I can. In many ways it’s a relief. In Guatemala it was both a chore and a way to pass the time, so entertainment, I guess. Doing laundry in the United States is mostly enjoyable. I own a washing machine so it’s convenient. I don’t have to wring out the clothes with my hands nor pretend that I managed to expunge all the soap from the cloth in my hand with a more knowing woman looking over my shoulder.
On Sundays I do laundry and it can make me feel better. Emptying out the full to the brim basket and folding fresh clothes away provides me with a false sense of accomplishment.
While I hang the laundry out to dry, the other things socks can represent slap and flap across my mind while I clothespin them into place.
Doing laundry includes:
Buying the washer was an investment like coming back home was supposed to be the start of something better, a more balanced life.
Hanging the clothes on the line shows me that I cannot seem to weed certain articles from use. Clothing I own, things that stink, are ripped, and mostly used up are supposed to get thrown away; yet, every week, they appear in front of me again and I tend to them as if they are worth keeping.
Reaching into the basket is a priority shift, because I know I don’t have enough clothespins to secure everything. When confronted with obstacles, for example, if it is a particularly windy day, this division is even more significant. For the first two years, the clothespins outnumbered the clothes. This summer they don’t, because my dad fixed them. I had not been able to do that myself.
Vibrating fluorescent green shirts repeat every so often. They have replaced the professional clothing I was so proud to buy upon coming home after leaving a cobbled together wardrobe behind. T-shirts now dominate, again, when I thought I had grown beyond them. While colorful, their reality is stark. Daily I am not doing what I should be or could be doing.
On Sundays, I do laundry if I can. Unless it’s raining, I step lightly down the two parallel clotheslines and hang my life out to dry. In Guatemala clothing did not dry easily. The only space was in a cement block corner underneath my neighbor’s stairs. No light could reach that corner so even underwear took days to dry. Things smelled funny and felt stiff to the touch, but that was to be expected. I wasn’t supposed to fit, not really. My life didn’t need to make sense, not really.
On Sundays I do laundry and it can make me feel better. The view across the yard is floral and calm. In Wisconsin, I must only check the clothes and take them in before evening dew settles into the fibers and growing shadows hide the cat shit that peppers the grass.
For more wonderful videos related to teacher training or literacy program development in rural Guatemala, please visit www.child-aid.org. I have no v...