I did the laundry today. There is always laundry in some stage of it’s life cycle. But today as I dropped the dinosaur underwear and moldy dish rags into the soapy water, my spirits followed.
It has everything to do with the new protocol. My landlord recently blocked off the door that gave me direct access to our tiny laundry room, forcing me to lug our threads out the front door, down a few flights of stairs, into the garage with it’s master lock and hefty door and through an overflowing storage room, leaving a trail of smelly toddler socks along the way.
He apologized for the inconvenience, politely explaining that he had concluded that this was the best way to improve his living space, formerly an equal half of the 1950’s duplex that we share. He is taking over a portion of our still unfinished first floor and wanted the stairs to himself.
I took the news in stride. It’s just laundry, I told him. And it is. Prior to this apartment, I had yet to ever have onsite laundry during my decade+ living in California. No more hoarding quarters or planning entire days around this chore.
But as I cruised the new route a seemingly endless number of times, I was forced to acknowledge something more. I had no say in this change. And I have no idea what changes may be coming or when. Typically, my renter’s lament is centered around not being able to make modifications that appeal to me. I rarely stop to acknowledge just how far my lack of control stretches. I would have no recourse if he decided that the rag tag collection of pots and planter boxes scattered across the driveway, a humble space that I affectionately refer to as my “garden”, has to go. And we would be in real trouble if he were to decide to sell.
The truth is that while we get along perfectly fine with my landlord, he would like nothing more than to see us leave. Since we moved in, rents in our area have nearly doubled and continue to climb. A dizzying influx of cash is conspiring to paint fences and faces a brighter shade of white. And I feel like a passenger with no say in where we are going or how quickly we get there. Gentrification is a reckless driver and the most meaningful decision we have is whether or not to get out of the car.
For now, we are lucky to have rent control legislation on our side. For now, we still love our neighborhood, with a special fondness for the old hippies and odd characters that hang on for dear life. For now, we are lucky to have access to all the amazing benefits that prosperity brings, from wonderful trash to delightful little stores where you can buy a cargo bike or a kombucha scoby.
For now, it’s just laundry.