As I type this, I'm sitting in the corner of our local laundromat waiting for my eight (yes, eight) loads of washing to get through their cycles. It's a laundromat which comes straight out of the movies. The flourescent lights on the paint-peeling ceiling have a distinctly yellowish cast to them, the "Sears Kenmore” washing machines are all lined up against the wall and are in various colours of sea foam green. On the wall there is a functional but rusting machine which, for 50c, will dispense exactly one broken plastic cup's worth of cheap, clumpy detergent. The musak piped in is scratchy and features music from the 50's and 60's (the song currently playing is sung by Doris Day). There are boxes of lost socks and discoloured abandoned shirts which look so forlorn I am almost inclined to just bundle them all up and take them to the nearest op shop for looking after.
There are tables for folding which have magazines from the 1980's (and they're the newer ones), spindly metal-legged chairs whose upholstery is either poking out or non-existent, and some Christmas tinsel which some hopeful sort strung across the place long enough ago that there are clumps of dust precariously balanced across the tinsel.
In short, it feels much much like I walked into a stitch in time – if not for the presence of the very modern laptop I'm working on, I'm pretty sure there is no difference between how this place looks now and how it did when it opened, with the possibly exception of the tinsel. There is something so totally wonderful about that, isn't there? That some places on earth just seem to be suspended in time but still function exactly as they are meant to. I've been in this laundromat a number of times over the last several weeks, thanks to my broken washing machine and my inability to find the time to ring the repair guy. Every time I have come in, the place is humming with the noise of people banging down metal washing machine lids and the reassuring clicking sound of the 1970's era dryers going around and around. And, yes, there is something rather wonderful about the dryers having see-through windows. Circling laundry is somehow very compelling viewing.
I have fallen a little bit in love with this place, for all of it's form and function, for it's retro-look (not at all deliberate) and for it's wonderful clean-laundry-and-ancient-machinery smell. Even with that, I have decided that tomorrow morning I'm going to finally call the repair guy. It's getting expensive and time consuming to keep coming here, and we really need our home washing machine back – but you know, I'm going to miss it here, I really am. It is – even with the slightly creepy guys who hang out here, and the vaguely dodgy nature of the place – just a lovely slice of domestic, communal living of which I get to be a very small part. I imagine if these machines could talk, they would probably have quite a bit to say.
I've got to go help DH fold all that laundry now, and so I'll need to end this love letter to Soapy, my local laundromat (and even the name of the place makes me smile with unbridled retro joy)… but I do so content in the knowledge that, even if I am away for a very long time, it will still be here, dusty tinsel and all.