Despite my penchant for liking to wear clean clothes, laundry day is the worst. In fairness, I also despise vacuuming, dishes, taking the trash out, dusting—domestic goddess I’m not, and my apartment often shows it. But laundry requires me to go outside my apartment, and that makes it a little worse than all other chores.
Granted, I have some privilege; I have facilities in my building. No longer are the days that I have to lug baskets of laundry to a public facility. I don’t have to schlep through snow or rain and then sit in a dreary gray building with someone else’s bored kids and a half empty vending machine. Collecting quarters, though, is still a bane of my existence and I loathe the days I’ve finally worked up the ambition to tackle the large mound only to find myself one short. And so, the mound grows larger.
Confession: I’ve bought new sports bras to avoid laundry and I have a months’ worth of underwear amassed.
On a typical laundry day, I rarely run into any of my neighbors in the shared space; a fact I appreciate. Recently, however, I was not that fortunate. I ignored the stare as I shoved darks and lights and delicates and whatever non-delicates are called (sturdy?) into the same machine. “Looks like you need a new basket,” she spoke as I looked up. She raised an eyebrow at my turquoise laundry bin.
I stared hard at the bin for a few seconds. It is a pretty standard plastic laundry basket. Sure, it was a tall variety—half hamper, half basket—because I wanted something that might kill me as I navigated two flights of stairs carrying something that hindered sight while banging my shins. “Excuse me?”
She wrinkled her nose at me and pointed to the top of the basket. “The handle is cracked.”
I looked at the handle in reference, and it had cracked from the rim of the basket. I shrugged.
“The other side is cracked, too.” She pointed out.
“So it is,” I nodded and shoved the coin tray into the slot to start the machine. “I’m not terribly worried about it.”
“It’s broken,” she stood with her hands on her hips. Was this really happening? “You should replace it. Maybe consider something more environmentally friendly—like a cloth hamper?”
“You want me to throw out a perfectly good plastic bin that I’ve had for almost eight years, and replace it with a cloth one?”
“It’s not perfectly good; it’s broken.”
It was one of those times that my perfect reply came not in that moment but once I got to the top of the steps to my apartment door.
And today, as I sit on the edge of my bed after a night of restless sleep filled with dreams of things I don’t allow myself to want out loud, and stare at the laundry that has surpassed the threshold of the basket, I focus a little too much on the cracked handle. It’s probably as equally responsible for the snags in my leggings and socks as the barbell at the gym, but the uneven cracking hasn’t weakened the structure. I wonder when it cracked, and why I never noticed. I’m now emotionally invested in a laundry basket and wondering what color duct tape I’ll require in the future to keep it in my life as long as possible.
And I think back to my perfect response: We are all a little broken; but we still function.