Monday, May 27, 2013

The Clothesline

Once upon a time, back when there were only three of you, you packed up all your stuff, loaded it in a truck, and drove (westward ho!), landing yourselves in Michigan. It was time for a Life Adventure. The Gingerbread Man had finished an MBA, and together, you decided more graduate school was in your future. So you sold your house, ending up five-seven-nine hours away from your respective families.

Faced with your situation, most women would get a job with a paycheck, but you are not most women. You had a job, a full-time job and then some: the gingerbread boy. He just didn't come with a paycheck. You know some would be quick to criticize that choice, calling you selfish or stupid or a drain on society. But you weren't.

Instead of making money, you made do. You knew the difference between want and need. You owned your car. You owned a house. There was no cell phone, no cable. You had dial-up internet, but no consumer debt. You had a Kitchen Aid. You knew how to make bread. You knew how to can. You knew how to knit. You knew how to sew. You kept a garden. Sometimes you walked places because you didn't have gas money, since gas had inched up over $2.00 a gallon. And the Gingerbread Man constructed a clothesline in your yard out of 4x4s and rope.

Once a week, you would carry the heavy baskets of wet laundry up the basement stairs, out the side door, over the small deck, down the stairs, past the pine tree, to the spot with the sun. You'd take a towel out of the basket, shake it out, its wetness snapping, and pin it up while the gingerbread boy played in the grass or swung on the swing or investigated the sand box. Retrieve, shake, pin. Retrieve, shake, pin. The repetition had a zen-like quality to it, so by the time you were done with one load, you were calm and ready to face whatever came next. You needed calmness in those days; the gingerbread boy had lots of needs requiring lots of patience.

If the sun were strong and the breeze was brisk that day, some of the laundry would be dry by the time you brought up the next load. You would walk down the lines, feeling towels, sheets, pants, dry and stiff and crunchy. You loved that feel; there was texture to it, but the texture would soften almost immediately, leaving you only with the sweet smell of the fresh air that no detergent company has ever been able to replicate.

You moved on after graduate school was over, and you miss that clothesline. Your needs are met now, and most of your wants are too, but you lack a sunny spot in the backyard in which to hold a few 4x4s and some rope, a place for the wind and the sun to make magic.

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