washing machines

August 14, 2009 at 11:09 am (simple pleasures, travel)

sitting here with the door open, listening to the sound of the washing machine.

i used to get very irritated by that sound. it’s quite loud and intrusive, it’s in my space and i don’t always have control over when it runs.

yet now the sound has associations of not only chores and hassle, but comfort, order, efficiency, white.

in two months of travel such a machine was the rarest of commodities. i got access to one exactly twice. i thoroughly enjoyed running round the continent, sleeping in tents or trucks, washing in hand basins or not at all, eating what i could find and being free. it’s an amazing, vital experience, but it’s not easy. i came to appreciate the comforts i was occasionally offered, and the epitome of comfort was borrowing a fluffy dressing gown while every scrap of fabric i owned was in the wash.

a washing machine is of limited value if you have no soap, no way of drying the finished product, no privacy in which to change, no security to ensure your clothes are safe as they dry or no way of cleaning yourself satisfactorily before you put the newly clean clothes on again. yet my new friend in austria and my old friend in denmark had homes, calm white airy apartments where they kept their entire lives, neatly organised and appropriate. sufficient, functioning. comfortable, available. as a guest in their homes i enjoyed beds in rooms with doors, consecutive dinners and breakfasts, conversation and assistance, internet and phone access and real showers.

over two months i got several other showers, varying degrees of local knowledge, food, beds and doors some good some questionable, but for everything to come together was unbelievable; i can no longer take it for granted.

i’m sure i won’t retain this attitude to machine noise through all the inconsiderate times that it gets run for other people’s clothes, but something has changed. i still maintain that home is where the sewing machine is, but maybe there’s something to be said for a washing machine too.

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