Thursday, April 23, 2009

my beautiful laundrette

I haven't had a real washer and dryer in my various homes in almost 20 years.

We've lived in this particular apartment now for five years. When we first moved in, one of the crowning glories was a tiny, little all-in-one washer/dryer. You hooked the hose up to the kitchen sink and it washed with hot water and then dried with hot steam. Or, at least, that was the premise. In reality, it sorta washed and sorta damp-steamed and the whole thing took about a total of four hours for one load of laundry.

It never actually worked. worked a few times in it's first year.
Then, it broke.
It's been a scrap metal cutting board for the last four years.

Laundry is a huge thing in our life. A huge, overwhelming, over-grown, looming, bane-of-existence thing in our life. We generate a large amount of it in any given week and neither of us particularly like going to the laundry mat. It might not be so bad if there were machines somewhere in the building. Or, if the mat was across the street. Hell, even down the block! Sheesh, gimme one block away!
But, no, our laundry mat is quite the distance from us. And it's pure torture reving up to go: Organize the soap, the spray, the bounce, separate the clothes (because we don't like shaking out our dirty laundry in front of everyone else), get enough quarters, bring something to read, -to do, -to listen to, stack the laundry bags high up, drag it downstairs, put it in the wheelie cart and start pushing...up hill, down hill, across train tracks. It sucks.

So, imagine our delight when the downstairs neighbors unexpectedly (and with police escort, apparently) moved out, leaving a beautiful, brand-new washer/dryer set in the apartment. No, it wasn't exactly advertised for use... in fact, it was just one daring night that our good-friend- and-neighbor decided to turn the handle to the apartment and WOOSH, the door flew open! It was unlocked! We walked in, called out, looked around. Definitely empty. The washer and dryer just sitting there, almost asking to be used. We gave each other a knowing glance and tiptoed out the same way we came in.

About a week or two went past and, while I'd thought of it and how great it could be, I hadn't actually done anything about it. Until I had coffee with said good-friend-and-neighbor, I hadn't actually thought it was possible. He revealed to me, once he'd gotten over the nervous first step, he'd been washing & drying loads every night for the past week! He gave me the run down: don't do the wash until after hours (6pm might be cutting it close, but 7pm onward, no one is coming in), it takes no time at all, and you can put in your last load before you go to bed and pick it up in the morning (before 8am, of course). He'd been wearing things once and then washing them, just for the joy of a nearby machine. I could feel the excitement rising... and, that night, I did four loads into the late hours. It was fantastic.

I turned another of our neighbors onto the machines, as well. She came by the our apartment the other night to drop off a little 'thank you' gift. "Those machines are a godsend", she said and told me she had a load of towels in as we spoke. "My pleasure", I replied. We were having a right little giggle about all our luck, talking about how we hoped this could go on for months, when our other neighbors stopped on their way out to say hello (we live in a really friendly building--not without it's sheer volume of weirdos, for those of us who've stuck it out it's a really great building) . We all started talking about the apartment downstairs and they told us how they didn't think it was going to last forever because they're showing the apartment.
"When?!", we both asked.
"Right now", they looked at us strangely, "why?"

Oh shit. We'd been caught. They were showing the empty apartment. Empty... except for the fact that there was a load of laundry running in the kitchen. Yeah, we were dead.

But, it turns out, we hadn't...and we weren't. Nothing happened. That was a few weeks ago. I've done six loads since then. I can't even count how many my other neighbors have done. It's actually gone from good natured, we-should-get-a-sign-up-sheet-going-fare to um-yeah-uh-well-I- was gonna-do-it-tonight-annoyance. I was even cleaning out the lint filter the other night wondering why my neighbors didn't take as much care with our new machine as I did?!

Ohmygod, it's a washing machine. Well, yes, and a dryer, too.
Two common appliances.
Two flights away.
It's hard to stay level-headed about it.


Gretchen said...

I feel your joy over these in-the-same-building appliances-- as well as the pain of not having them. Although I do not have to literally cart my laundry up and down hills it sometimes feels as if I do... I have been using a laundromat for 3 yrs. now, and I now realize how much I have taken these wonder-machines for granted.

Here's to hoping they never rent the apartment below...

lotta said...

Molly, now i feel extremely guilty, bragging about my decadent laundry room, and wining about my overgrown garden, while you are washing your clothes in secret in an abandoned apartment and bringing up your veggies on the fire escape. My only solace is that you probably have a much richer life than me in many other ways, being in a big thriving city and all... anyways I wish there was a way for me to share both my laundry room and the disproportionate amount of outdoor space here. Happy weekend!

Cindy said...

Hi, I stumbled upon your blog and find it very interesting. I will be back.

sophia said...

loved reading this post molly.

clairedulalune said...

Hello Molly, stumbled apon your blog as you do, and I laughed out loud reading your posts! I can totally relate to washing clothes, (even though, mine is only across the street tut,tut, Traintracks?) So wash away girly, I think you deserve it! Lovely to meet you and thanks for the laughs!

Karafina said...

best laundry story ever....

hardworker said...

when you're ready I'll haul it upstairs.

paige said...

Don't ever worry about writing too many words again... your words are captivating and hilarious.

I can hear you telling the story as I read with suspense and I love the squatter laundry washing suspense.