For weeks our washing machine had been giving hints that all was not well. Call it denial or wishful thinking or playing dumb, but I’ve perfected the art of ignoring hints until forced to do otherwise. They say “don’t fix what isn’t broken,” right? So the machine attempts to walk across the floor? It’s got restless leg syndrome. Happens to the best of us on rare occasions. It doesn’t spin the clothes as thoroughly as you expected? Maybe just a fluke or maybe it’s a particular fabric. But when the racket it makes during the spin cycle is enough to wake a hibernating bear AND the washer is walking AND the clothes are sopping wet, you’ve got my attention. And when the repairman talks about a worn-out transmission, it’s time to go shopping.
In the meantime, however, a visit to the local laundromat is in order. Thus the other afternoon I made not one, not two, but three trips to such an establishment, my front pouch filled with quarters, my backpack carrying detergent and a couple of books—don’t leave home without ‘em—and my cart filled to the brim with bags of dirty clothes.
(Cart? Backpack? Yes, of course I was walking to and from the laundromat. Good way to get my daily “steps” in and my chores done. Doesn’t walking make everything more interesting?)
So while load #1 was washing, I zipped over to the library; while load #2 was going through its cycles, I brought load #1 home to the dryer. Then back to rescue load #2, and to begin #3. You get the picture.
In the end, I didn’t have a spare minute to even crack the spine of the books I was carrying. No time, in fact, to check my cell for texts or emails. But as I loaded the wet clothes into my rolling cart, brought them home, carried them down the basement, repeating the process three times, I had plenty of time to think. More time to think as I folded 22 t-shirts and as many pairs of underwear and socks. More time still as I placed the clean clothes in drawers….
My thoughts ran along these lines: so for Spain, Katy, you are planning on taking the clothes you are wearing and one clean set? (Ok, so you know you are going to cheat a wee bit in that regard, but still: it’s gotta fit in your backpack and you’ve got to carry it.). You are thinking you’re some kind of a “hero” for negotiating the laundromat, but in Spain are you going to be prepared to wash your clothes in a sink each night? After you’ve found a place to rest your weary bones? After you’ve found an ATM machine, a grocery store, a pilgrim-priced dinner? After you’ve figured out how to connect to wifi? After you’ve checked in with home, looked over the routes for the next day, stood in line for a shower? After you’ve written in your journal and/or posted on WordPress?… Oh….
If simplicity were an easy thing to achieve, there wouldn’t be so many books and blogs explaining how to achieve it. I have a lot to learn, I’ll grant you that, before I am able to say with total conviction that “less is more.” It sounds good until you look for a clean pair of underwear only to realize that the two pair you brought are both dirty….
My laundry preparations for the Camino, to date, consist of a 10’ length of thin rope to serve as an emergency clothesline and 6 light-weight plastic clothespins. And a sink stopper. All of which, in my search for simplicity and less weight, may remain at home. I hear that body odor in the hostels can get a bit out of hand. I’m beginning to understand. I just might fit right in!
PS: About those 22 t-shirts and all the socks? Keep in mind that I was washing clothes for three people and our machine had been on the blitz for over a week.