moments in the laundry room, stay still

In the beginning, God created the sky and the earth. The beginning, Bereishit, some commentaries cite as the true First creation, as the frame for the universe as we now know it. Without time then, how would we, and Earth, and birds, and comets, and crocodiles, exist? What does it say of us, that we are beings set within a linear dimension, limited to the vertical progression of our days?

I have a different bathroom now, black and white tiles, rusted round shower head, symmetrical square space in the house my family recently moved into. And I’ll be moving out in a few months now- different country, different language, different currency, soon. We have a room devoted to laundry now, down the hallway from my own. I like the smell in there; the detergent and the fabric softener and clean linen. I’ve always wanted to live in a house just like this as a child, and now  that I’m 20, half survivor, half adult, I’ve gotten it, ironic escort into my leaving.

There is a lot I’ve liked to tell you that I never quite formulated into words, and maybe that’s inevitable, because words come from the same strain as time, from the shaping of human existence into form that is tangible and relevant, the  shaping of our spirits into letters that can be structured and exhibited in a dictionary.

I think you hated time because you understood it, and it made you angry to find yourself forced into a form of motion you disdained. I am clumsy, and a bit chaotic, and a linear pathway never accommodated my gait, but you hated linearity because it took for granted that you would look ahead.

Free of the clasp of time, the past never really leaves, and maybe that’s why some of us find the smear of its prints in the unlikeliest of places. I know the past shackled you slave in its chains, because you tempted it to, and there’s a weight to tragedy that physics cannot define. Perhaps you were a casualty of time’s movement- some would say sacrifice- but in the laundry room, I believe you were insurgent.

The laundry room is incredibly domestic, and this house holds a family, but at night, separated by two staircases and a handful of doors from the bedrooms upstairs, I am alone. Routine has always frightened me- isn’t it insane, I’ve argued, to wash the clothes and linen over and over, only to dirty them and then wash them again? Isn’t it infuriating, to find ourselves forced into the cyclical motions of time, even as we’re held captive in its stubborn linearity? Isn’t shameful, the running of circles within a line, within a universe that is constantly expanding, straining towards its endpoints, pulsing towards an infinity?

The laundry room reminds me of you, maybe because it’s quiet here, and you were never one for words. Or maybe because it’s familiar in here, and you were always that- a slice of something that seemed to have come and gone and made itself known, long ago. They forced you onto a path straight and stone-lined and headed towards the sunset, but you were always attracted to the beginning, to the dawning of sun, the wrestling of the night darkness. You were never meant to be caged in these clock hands.

As for me, I rarely fear the future. Future lies open and decked in violet twilight, and it smells of berries and stuff in bloom. I gutted the past you know, and even though maybe it gutted me too- gutted me first, even- I was the one who walked away. There’s a choice we make, and it’s the choice between re-washing and re-stitching and re-wearing the clothing we create and acquire, or stripping naked and baring skin to the elements.

You made the choice of skin, of vulnerability, of surrender to the forces. You trusted the wind more than the earth, because it seemed less obsessed with containing you. I chose to do laundry, and seasonal shopping, and casting moments still in the silence of night. I’ve learnt to embalm, coat my innards with clay, and decorate their exterior with words so I can share a sliver of me with the others. It’s hard to tell in all this, who was coward and who was brave, but I’ve learned that the winds eventually settle, and reveal a shimmer to the sky, herald to beginnings we’ve never even yet dreamed of.


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