Laundromat Diaries Part 2

Laundromat Diaries Part 2

A Story by roarke
"

twenty-something life routines at the flat edge of the world

"

Time leap-frogged forward. Grail-quest light-years passed. The journey to finding myself -after make-believe semesters in college- led me out west, to a little coastal town called Hermosa Beach. I believed pushing my boundaries would help me discover my limits. 


I left behind a love-at-first-sight relationship, because I didn’t know how to express love. She and I vainly tried the ‘long distance romance’ thing for a year anyway. Our relationship was bleeding-out in absentia. Playing repetitive games of solitaire did little to help ease my moments alone, so I bought a wrinkle covered Chinese Shar-Pei puppy. I named him Chops. 


It’s funny, no matter how much you try to change your life, there are always certain unchanging elements. You still have to pay your bills, you still have to eat, and inevitably you still have to do your laundry. When you don’t own your own living quarters or furnish your rented abode with a washer and dryer, then you are consigned to weekly Laundromat Purgatory. 


I usually chose to do my laundry after a call to my girlfriend two thousand miles away. I’d hang up, waiting first to hear the click at her end, then grab a crossword puzzle book, and my laundry duffle I still used from college, leash-up Chops and drive a short distance up hill to a small 24-hour laundromat. 


The laundromat was old, the machines beat to crap. It was often over crowded in the mornings and early afternoons so for convenience sake, I did my laundry late at night, after 10 pm. Both the front and back doors would be left wide open, allowing circulation of cooler air throughout the night, which gave the humble building a sense of vulnerability. 


At the late hour of ten or eleven, there was only one other person in the laundromat. An old Hispanic woman. She was small, excessively wrinkled with gnarled hands and steel wool hair. She didn’t speak English, didn’t speak at all really. What she did was collect used dryer sheets and resell them to people. 


I tied my pup’s leash to a table leg and bought two used dryer sheets from the old woman who stared suspiciously at my dog, but never gave me any eye contact. Then I’d dump my duffle bag full of dirty clothes into one of the ancient washing machines. I’d struggled to shove quarters into the beast to force it to come alive, and return to sit by my dog and work a crossword puzzle while I waited. 


After a certain hour, only during week nights, beach towns become very quite. Five blocks away, the ocean sounded like it was right at the door step. I struggled with finding the right words to the crossword. My concentration was repeatedly distracted by the clumsy, churning laundry noise wrestling against the sound of eternal ocean waves. 


Chops was smelling all around under the table. He wasn’t totally house broken and I had to keep an eye on him. The dim, yellowed florescent lighting of the laundromat kept me in an unfocused, daydream kind of state. The fake wood paneling was dull and drab. I caught myself counting speckles on the brittle linoleum floor. I tried everything not to think about my girlfriend back east. Mindless distraction wasn’t working. 


I was roused from my thoughts when the washing machine announced it’s end of cycle with a loud, jarring buzz. At that very same moment, my puppy Chops decided to pee on the floor and the old Hispanic woman looked up with a disgusted sneer but said nothing. I located a roll of paper towels, cleaned up the yellow puddle and tied my pup outside to finish his business. Then I pulled the soggy twisted lumps of fabric from the washer and flung them into the gaping maw of the bulk dryer. I dropped quarter after quarter into the slots and waited for the 80 pound capacity monster to start. 


The tumbling of my pants and shirts and underwear in the dryer window seemed to mirror thoughts about my life. Locked in, swirling, falling over and over, crushing and stretching into a hot, disarrayed pile. Was I going anywhere at this western edge of the world? Did I do the right thing leaving my girlfriend back east? I’ve washed my clothes before, was there going to be anything different occurring between the mundane routines of my life? The old Hispanic woman had nothing to suggest.  Chops had found a small lizard to play with. The dryer’s buzzer went off. This routine had ended. 


© 2015 roarke



Author's Note

roarke
are questions answers in themselves? Doing laundry revealed more than college psychology classes. In the words of talk show host David Letterman, "Is this anything?"
me, I'm just here doing my laundry.

critiques and comments welcome

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Featured Review

This is a brilliant little slice of real life. I don't know how you did it, but you injected a mundane scenario (doing the laundry), with a healthy dose of introspection and some pathos, owing to the context of a failed relationship. Just terrific, my kind of writing :)

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

roarke

2 Years Ago

I'm going to re-write part one and repost it here. There is a part four maybe even a part five. I'm .. read more



Reviews

This is a brilliant little slice of real life. I don't know how you did it, but you injected a mundane scenario (doing the laundry), with a healthy dose of introspection and some pathos, owing to the context of a failed relationship. Just terrific, my kind of writing :)

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

roarke

2 Years Ago

I'm going to re-write part one and repost it here. There is a part four maybe even a part five. I'm .. read more
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Round and round we go, and IF we stop, nobody knows. I liked the look inside your "dryer" window, was warm and fluffy :)

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I love the way you write roark. God's truth. your word choice, your metaphores...
Sam's got a style of his own which I like very much and you have your own. it's a delight to read you.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

roarke

2 Years Ago

thank you very much Woody.
ah the laundry mat ...I know it well...'cept I take a note book and write while I am there ....no dog...no underwear....and by the end of my journey a few less left socks....as always I love your writing...like an old friend that I don't know.....and your dog just pooped where I usually stand to have my smoke...

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

terry smith

2 Years Ago

i have 6/8ths of a pack of hot dogs in my freezer...no mustard...that's about as close as i get...
roarke

2 Years Ago

I'm a comin' over for dinner
terry smith

2 Years Ago

open invitation my friend 24/7
Nice though too close (for comfort) to home. I guess we've all been there. This piece could be left exactly as is, that is without a Part 3. The going-nowhere aspect of it echoed by the place and machines is a wonderful metaphor for the way that station in life often feels. And in that way it is self-contained misery.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

roarke

2 Years Ago

I did a lot of "waiting" until I realized I had control of the reins.... pt 1 was in college, pt2 ou.. read more
It's scene-setting of the first order, which only looks easy when it's done this well.

Posted 2 Years Ago


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-- i just posted a piece about doing laundry... lol... :p -- more importantly, this is an incredibly intense piece of writing, Maestro Roarke... -- i think sometimes that brutal introspection happens in the most unexpected places... -- suddenly, we are able to join the dots and understand something that may have been obvious but not to us... -- and routine sounds are never routine sounds... they are metaphors... -- i like how the narrator thought he was alone with no one to talk to and yet a trip to the laundromat ended up being a therapy session and revealed insights that he needed...

Posted 2 Years Ago



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Added on November 17, 2015
Last Updated on November 17, 2015
Tags: flash fiction, short story, fiction, Hermosa Beach, laundromats, life routines, youth, william calkins, roarke

Author

roarke
roarke

About
Bio I've been a professional teacher, artist and musician for over thirty years and I currently pursue an off-the-grid homesteading lifestyle. I'm continuing life's journey, accepting and creating n.. more..

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