Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! The balance has shifted in the load of towels, bedsheets, and denim, and the machine wobbles slightly under the strain. It's hardly a reassuring sound, but I've learned to ignore it as long as the knocking doesn't reach a fever pitch. The sound gradually decrescendos to a comfortable, even whirr.
In less than a week I'll be heading out on the road (or, perhaps more aptly, on the plane), and tonight is the last night I'll have to completely to myself before that trip. What better way to spend it than doing laundry? In go crimson sheets and towels to restock the guest room for my family's arrival tomorrow, and I make sure to include the brand new pair of black jeans I've bought for my travels. With any luck, this will be the last load of laundry I'll do before I leave. But who am I kidding? I can already see another one, this time a pile of dingy whites, forming in my near future.
The time comes to move on to the second step in laundry care: the dryer. Pulling out sodden balls of terrycloth and dripping cotton, I'm a little wary. Isn't the washer supposed to wring out the excess water? An armful of only a couple of towels feels crushingly heavy, but I transfer them to the dryer anyway. I have the Rick Steves' DVD cued up for Granada and Morocco, not to mention a mug of hot tea calling my name.
But when the final scenes of Tangier fade from the screen, I find the laundry room suspiciously silent. Our dryer is not all powerful, and stubbornly refuses to put any more effort into the Herculean task of drying such a soppy mess. Back in the washer they go, while I utilize all my brainpower to trying to determine where precisely to set the washer dial to achieve maximum spin with minimal time and no more water. After an initial rush of water comes streaming in (I said spin, not rinse!), I realize that five minutes is all it takes to wring out the excess, and the dryer now hums happily with a more manageable load.
It makes me wonder, how many times do we cut corners only to find ourselves right back where we started, losing any time we thought we'd saved and more? How long does it take to learn such a simple lesson? Frankly, I'm too tired for such thoughts at the moment. Any life lessons found in a load of laundry will have to wait until tomorrow morning, along with the freshly cleaned sheets.