Saint Rossmore

Early on Sunday at the laundry
and Secretary Clinton just unloaded an oh-no-she-did-not diss on President Karzai.
Not that he didn’t deserve it, of course.
The centrifuge on the (coin-op, of course) washer in our basement gave out—
I warned the landlord that the tub seemed to be leaking,
lovely people, but still, cheap bastards.
(Here I am, thirty-five, still renting.
I got all my best studying in grad school done before noon, Sundays, at the Found Sock in Brighton.
Today it’s the Rossmore in JP.)

Funny how you forget things like that for a while until something happens to make you recall.
Secretary Gates is really well-spoken, I see.
This not having a TV thing might be overrated now that we’ve a decent administration again.
And gosh, doesn’t George Stephanopoulos look old, although Mrs. Clinton looks not as aged by her job as she could.
Makes me glad to be a Seven Sisters grad, the first time I’ve had that thought in a while.
I do admire a plain-spoken woman.
The Sabbath-day gasbag shows (bless Calvin Trillin for that) play on a flat panel HD display
while my laundry churns in the driers and I type on my laptop,
and Spanish-speaking toddlers stomp by in oversized, sparkling, cartoon-character snowboots.
Dora the Explorer, Transformers and Star Wars.

First snowfall, yesterday, early December, and the fresh snow clings to the electrical lines,
the tops of the bus signs,
the bushes and trees as I drove home last night after closing the bookstore,
my usual drive home through bucolic suburbia transformed–
not so much winter wonderland as sparkling, unplowed,
following a Toyota Camry with Mass plates who can’t drive in a half-inch of snow.
Same thing every year.

My Nordic-style handmade cashmere mittens knit by my best friend and her wife–
the ones they gave me for my help with their wedding
(not as much as they seemed to think, really, I was in the midst of another damned meltdown)
did an admirable job of clearing the snow from my windshield,
since of course I’d forgotten my brush and my scraper.
(Yes, I had known the forecast. I forgot the scraper, regardless.)

Now Russ Feingold’s on the TV, and I’m almost done with my fair-trade coffee
(in its recycled paper cup and cornstarch plastic lid, bien sur)
to go from the coffee shop ‘round the corner and Russ is old, too.
I remember when he first ran for Senate.
I was writing for the college newspaper then—
I think I wrote an op-ed piece for the College Democrats, even,
along with the piece I wrote covering when Clinton (the husband) campaigned in Boston.
My roommate sat on my shoulders so she could snap a good picture.
He stopped—turned—smiled—waved at her. At us.
He was like that. Is still, I suppose.
It’s been a while since I’ve paid much mind to politics except my duty to vote.
It was a fabulous picture—we were both so excited back then.

The laundromat’s filling, people lugging in laundry in their “suitcases of the world”—
you know the ones—those huge faux-plaid plastic bags with the handles you get at the dollar store.
The potted ferns, spider plants, antique washboards hung on support posts,
bright-painted walls and old, molded fiberglass chairs are cacophonous colors.
I bought one, once, one of those big handle bags.
It broke, fairly quickly—I think I overloaded it,
dragging it up and down stairs trying to do—
surprise, surprise—dirty laundry.
I’ve always suspected I carried around too much baggage.

Good lord, there’s wi-fi and the snack machines are much better than those at the Found Sock ever were—
water, dried fruit and trail mix, yogurt raisins on top of the soda and chips–
and usually I wouldn’t bring the laundry here to do it myself–
I’d drop it off for the nice older man to do by the pound, the one who calls me sweetheart and dear
and folds my bras and underwear just so– what must it be like?
Handling other people’s dirty laundry for work with a smile?
It’s a beautiful smile.
He’s got more grace—capital G Grace– than I’ll ever have.
He lent me his centrifuge in the back when I came in this morning,
to spin off the worst from my sopping-wet clothes.

Two Clinton terms, two Bush terms, one half of an Obama term later—
grad school and an attempt at a career and now I’m starting over again, sort of and yet not—
is thirty-five too early for a mid-life crisis if I’ve already had one or two
(fine, more than that, but if I keep too strict a count I’ll need more therapy than I’m already in)–
when I go home am I going to be as weathered and wise as Hilary and Russ and Robert and George?
Or am I going to look like a bear who’s just woken from a long hibernation,
bleary and leaves matted in dirty old fur?

I awake early on Sunday at the laundry—
to something that’s the same and yet different, bigger and brighter,
three point five miles southwest from where adulthood (of some kind) began,
with a husband who makes me laugh,
with contents of pantry and bookshelves and medicine cabinet to make me feel better,
a laptop to write poetry upon–
and Saint Rossmore bustling by every so often to say—
“You’ve got a minute left on your load, darlin’. You might want to check.”

Yes, sir. I might.
Thank you for the reminder.
Would you like to come home with me?
Keep watch over everything else?

Better not ask.
Instead, I think I’ll go home.
I’ve got more laundry I can bring back and hand over the counter.


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