I decided that doing laundry is something that I can accomplish today. I even think that it could be pleasant. The laundry is now this thing that I am going to do. I must do the laundry today. Reality. Existence and laundry are now successfully linked in my brain. It has taken weeks to make it click.
I’m even getting up early to do this laundry, because when a person wants to do something, pleasantly, there are only so many ways to do that thing. Laundry cannot be done pleasantly during the drudgery of the afternoon, that is three or four o’clock. Three or four o’clock is the time when most of the washing portals and drying TVs are in use, when white socks and blue underwear chase each other, the mounting and repeating flop.
No, there is nothing happy about droop-eyes and toddlers, hungry for dinner in the dimming grey shine of the dirty glass, dirty from slush bombs ignited by passing SUVs. I will do this thing in the morning.
The morning is the secret time of the day. It is the most lovely dismantled time of the day. A person has to work for this time. It isn’t easy, letting the light pry the eyelids open with its bright harsh beam, like a stick propping up a dead mechanism, a window, or a car hood.
I did forget, though, that there are other things to do before I leave in a glow of productivity. Well, waking up is difficult, as I mentioned before. I shut out the beam at least three times. And the air is never the exact right temperature for sticking a foot out into it, unless there was alcohol to excessively warm the body the night before. But, I’m doing it right now.
I’m walking to the kitchen and I’m putting some bread in the toaster, and I’m waiting, and while I’m waiting I’m going to the bathroom, then I’m washing my hands, and I’m putting some toothpaste, pop.
And I’m pulling out the toast. Well, it’s always better to brush the teeth after eating. Now my toast won’t taste minty. It’s the prevenient grace of dry bread. And I’m putting on some jam, apricot. No one loves apricot jam, but everyone has a bottle because this will somehow make us all well rounded if we rotate jam flavors. I’m thinking I need to just embrace my beloved strawberry passions. That is what I really want, everyday…strawberry jam. But apricot will get me to the laundromat.
Do I know how many things I have to do before I can go wash my clothes? No, but it is starting to hit me as I wait for the crumbs in my mouth to vanish and go where crumbs go, when they mingle with saliva and five minutes, so that I can brush my teeth. And I can wash my face, and brush my hair, and change my clothes and pick a book to read while I pass the time, to wash my towels, to wash a pair of underwear that I wore to the movies with a friend under some jeans that I will wash, that were on my legs when I ate some popcorn, when I drank some coke.
I finally have my shit together. I’m losing steam, by which, I mean, I just want to go back to bed. I think of the tea that I drank and remember that this is going to be a morning of meaningful composition. I’ve got my tea. I’ve got my brisk gentle morning wash. And the dryer will rumble with energy as I read a novel worth reading, the kind of novel that I’ll be pleased with myself for reading when I’m fifty-six and other people still have a compulsive need for fast food. I can do this. I will. I must.
So, here I am putting rumpled dirty items that were once clean into a canister to clean them again, so that I can put them on clean and take them off dirty. Here I am. And I have the thought as I am sitting here on a cold metal chair, which is, I must say, significantly less pleasant than a moderately temperatured plastic chair. The thought is, this isn’t so bad. And when a person has this thought it seems to redeem the situation that the person finds herself in. It means that this situation, is definitely bad as opposed to good, but I am surprised at how not extremely bad it is, and thus my understanding of my life is greatly improved because it is less bad than I feared it to be, but still, not good, but still, this thing that, had I any choice in the matter, I wouldn’t do. Yes, I am saying, I am implying that I think I have some original right to be exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to do, like sailing in the Greek Islands, or Isles I believe they are called, in movies, on posters, in travel agencies, in someone’s mouth, the words spilling out with the confidence of money to back them up. Yes, I am saying that I think a person should be perpetually groomed, not perpetually warding of bodily decay, slowing it down, slowing it down, slow, slowly.
And I can’t seem to read my book, because a toddler that wasn’t’ supposed to be here till dinner-time, is banging a quarter against his metal chair. He is doing it. He will be doing it ten seconds from now. I can tell. Yes He is. And those ten seconds have become my tens seconds. I can tell with some certainty what ten seconds will bring. It usually brings the continuance of the thing that is occurring ten seconds previously, sometimes, the ending of it, sometimes something new. But the something new is usually equally mundane, like staring, or tapping, or blinking, or shifting.
I actually tell the kid to stop it, because his mother is somewhere else. Because I didn’t agree to his presence. He looks at me. He stares. Then he shifts. Then he taps. The quarter.
AIMEE DE LONG is the author of the forthcoming poetry chap Plugged Poems from Full of Crow Chaps and was the winner of Literary Chaos’ 2008 Famas Poetry Contest. Her work has appeared in Thieves Jargon, 3 AM, Yellow Mama, and Gloom Cupboard. If this is not a long enough list of vague accolades, you can find more at www.aimeedelong.com.