In all my thirty-three lives, one of the few activities I am privileged not to do was laundry. There were many reasons I could get away with the chore. For one, we always had helpers. Even when one of them had to return to the province to visit her loved ones, another maid does the clothes washing for us. Another reason is because I never had a taste of living solo. While I rented an apartment in Quezon City in the past, seldom did I spend my time living there. And when I needed my clothes washed, there was a nearby laundry shop to accomplish the task.
It is safe to say that I lead a comfortable life. But at the back of my head, I always knew, a day would come when I would have to wash my own clothes.
Such as when the present helper went home to visit her family, which she had not seen in years.
The nanny of course, was available to do the laundry. But times have changed and we have kids now, who needed undivided attention. So instead of waiting for the other maid to come back and wash the items I wear, I took this opportunity to learn a new chore.
There was of course, the washing machine, to lend aid and keep the activity a breeze. I bought it a few years ago after the vintage one could no longer run. The appliance, which I have never seen do its work, cut the laundry time in half. All that's needed was to separate the white items from the colored ones. The white ones go in first, so as not to smudge them with faint hues of other colors. Then, I took a few scoops of Tide with Downy, (more like calculated coursing from the packaging, since we don't have a plastic scooper at home) and set the timer to five minutes, which, I had to repeat twice just to make sure the sweat, grime, and dead cells part from the fabric. As I watch the tub spin in a clockwise motion, I recall the days when my elders warned not to put my hand inside the swirling pool of greywater. I didn't pay attention, of course, even when they said that I might get electrocuted. To this day, the temptation is there, despite the persistence of the urban legend, and when I did wrap my fingers around a piece of clothing, I didn't get a jolt. Instead, the swirling maelstrom bound my appendages to the point that I had to lift my arm just to free my fingers from being compressed further.
The backbreaking work came when I had to soak the items on a tub of clear water: The repeated rinsing until the soap suds disappear; the full arm twisting while squeezing the remaining water absorbed by the bed sheet covers; and the squatting I am forced to do for faster "banlawan." It was unglamorous, and when I think of the large amounts of water I had thrown away after each rinsing cycle, the pangs of guilt nearly drove me to let others finish the job. There must be an easier way of doing this part of the laundry, but it didn't come across that I could have looked for it on the Internet before embarking on this task.
On that sunny day, not only was I able to wash my clothes, the provider I have grown to be had learned to apply detergent and fabric softener, which I get every grocery shopping day. Amusing, how you never pay attention to the items you gather at Puregold, until it's your turn to use them for the first time. This, and the stories of improvisation (for we are running out of hangers and clips to air dry the wet clothes) are what makes this activity worth telling, and even if it will take some time before I do my own laundry again, unlocking this achievement inches me closer to living my life the way I want it,
Someday in the future.