Musings from the Laundromat: Threads and Tales edition
I’m here early. And as usual, glaucoma man was here before me. It was just he and I and the laundry lady.
First words out of his mouth: “Oh here you are! I was just telling her about that Bruce Jenner.”
Oh boy I thought … because I already know where he stands on a lot of topics and they are – um – antiquated points of view.
Him: I don’t know why he had to go and do that, he had a perfectly good life!
Me: Well, he felt he is a woman.
Him: He’s going to have a hard time finding high heels – he has size 13 feet! (Hearty laugh ensues)
Me: Well, I have size 10 feet.
Him: He doesn’t even LOOK like a woman!
Me: It happens, he needed to do this to be happy. (I sustained from using ‘she’ considering who I was talking to – pronouns were the least of my conversational concerns.)
Then I used coffee as a reason to excuse myself.
Laundry lady: Doesn’t he drive you crazy?
Me: Nah … he’s lonely.
Laundry lady: He drives ME crazy, he tells the same stories over and over again.
Me: Well, I put myself in his shoes, and know I’d want someone to listen to my same stories if I was lonely.
Laundry lady: Yeah, but he shoves past me when I am trying to open.
Me: Well, that’s not good. You open early to accommodate people.
Laundry lady: Sometimes, if it’s just him outside … I make him wait.
I tried not to laugh. I mean, the laundromat opens at 8 and she will open at 7:30 sometimes. She doesn’t have to do that. So she’s well within her rights to keep that door closed until 8 O’Clock exactly. But I remembered all the customers that have given her grief that I’ve witnessed, and that’s only a tiny fraction of what goes on.
The way she said “I make him wait” in a confessional stage whisper just tickled me though.
The only power she had – she used.
Our chat was paused when a lady came up to the counter counting change and mentioning waiting for a Western Union from her daughter. I’ve counted change more times than I care to remember, and while money is super tight right now, I did still have a few dollar bills in my wallet. I offered them to her.
Turned out she had enough.
I returned to my table.
Then Mr. Same Old Stories surprised me.
Him: Not a lot of men in here today, Fathers Day. Looks like woman’s day.
(That didn’t make much sense to me, but I kept listening.)
Him: I’ve got to call my son later –
Me: Oh! Happy Father’s Day!
Him: Thanks. He doesn’t call me. Haven’t seen him in over six years. His wife controls him. She’s ten years older than him. He found himself a ‘mommy’. His mom died when he was one.
Me: Oh! I’m so sorry.
Him: That’s ok. I was never really a good dad. He doesn’t owe me anything.
And I sat there – and he walked off to fold his clothes.
And as I sat, I thought about the lives people have led. The reasons behind their loneliness. The need to retell the good stories.
The desire for companionship. To have a familiar face show up and to look forward to that brief interaction.
Laundry lady confided in me too. Turns out she lost her father seven years ago. She flew out for the funeral, across country, only to find herself at a party disguised as a memorial – and not once was her father mentioned.
Me: Well, you made the effort.
There was sadness in her eyes. Regret. And I wanted to hug her.
There are so many stories here. SO many threads and colors and sizes. Not just in the washing machines, but sitting beside me and in front of me.
So I’ll continue to listen.
And to muse.
Easter Musings from the Laundromat
Was running a little late today – took time to take a shower, have a cup of coffee. Then had to run to the store for the Easter goodies I have been putting off.
Glaucoma man was still here when I arrived. The place is practically empty.
He did something he’s never done before. Sat down at my table. We talked for quite a while about a wide range of topics.
He wondered if I had children. We spoke of medical marijuana, about his sister. About the passing of his mother. We spoke of not wanting to drive out-of-town. Of funerals.
He said his sisters may be coming into town and he’s excited, but doesn’t want to get his hopes up.
I’m just glad he sat down. It’s like we shared a little bit of Easter together.
I love listening to people sharing their lives.
And I really try to hear. Hear the wisdom, the lessons – hear what worked for them, what didn’t.
Someone with 80 years has a lot to share. But, that doesn’t automatically mean they have all the answers. That they’ve lived in a way in which they’re proud.
He shared some of his defects of character with me too. And I just listened.
And now he’s gone to do his shopping. And I’m sat wondering if he has children. What he’ll put in his cart. How he’ll spend the rest of his day.
Today though, was for listening and not asking questions.
Tangled, tongue-tied. And how friends are like combs …
Well, well, well.
Once again, the universe responded to my venting with a loving, ‘why do you keep forgetting that you are not forgotten?!’ moment.
I don’t know how many more of them I get – so I should probably fix whatever it is that needs fixing before I use them all up.
After the dam broke, I flailed a little in the deluge of feelings until I came up for air gasping.
Having purged onto my blog – I found the motivation to check on dinner. I was plating when my dog started barking – unable to ‘nose’ her way out, I left the kitchen to open the front door for her.
She startled as a friend of mine came walking in.
(This gives me pause for thought by the way – Butters the Brave is never going to be inscribed on her collar. Any serial killers out there should probably know that they have safe passage into my house simply by stepping around the barking manatee – could you just not wake me up to kill me? Thanks.)
I didn’t startle.
This is the sort of friend that does just walk in. And I like it.
I compared her after our chat to Batman. (okay, mostly I was chatting and she was listening – which was just what I needed)
Only better – because I never have to put a signal up into the sky – she just seems to know when I need her. She’s like a Jedi friend. She senses a disturbance in the force and just shows up.
“I came to check on you – you didn’t look good Monday.”
Did I mention she also doesn’t pull any punches?
She had come into the office on business, shortly after I had been on the curb trying to steady my heart and my breathing and regain the vision in my right eye.
We had stood around the candy bowl in the reception area and chatted for a little while.
Last night we reenacted that scene – only on my couches with my little candy bowl between us.
It was sweet.
(Sorry – couldn’t resist)
After I purged and she listened – occasionally offering insight – I felt so much better.
But what I noticed was that I have the hardest time orally. I can never adequately sum up what is running through my odd little head when it comes to speaking.
My mind is trying to process what it is I’m thinking and feeling and why, the whole time I’m trying to form a sentence!
And I just can’t ever find the right words.
I’m analyzing everything that I know I want to say, before I say it.
This results in me being 10 thoughts ahead of the one that I started to convey when I opened my mouth. It’s bonkers. I get tongue-tied.
I was reminded of my poem Mute.
The most wonderful thing about thinking out loud to a friend is that the problems start to loosen and all the confusing knots start to get worked out. Friends are like combs.
I couldn’t put my finger on exactly WHAT was the source of my sadness – but we got closer.
I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: Unless I acknowledge what’s bothering me – examine it and find a solution – it’s not going to go away. And I don’t grow.
Constantly stuffing my feelings and ignoring problems with a fake smile – doesn’t get me anywhere and only results in more tangles.
Another friend, who just returned from Germany (God I missed her!) sent me a quote today that I loved.
“To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee” – William H. Walton.
And not just for grudges. To carry a fear or any unresolved issue will eventually diminish your capacity to live your life to the fullest and eat away at your serenity.
So what have I learned this time?
- I don’t have to be alone. I choose it – I need to choose to let people in
- Butters is a useless guard dog
- Candy bowls make for great conversation center pieces
- I need to work on my verbal communication skills
- No more stuffing my feelings
And most importantly, I have the most amazing friends.
Now, if I had antibiotics for my ears, I’d be golden.