It’s just laundry

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.


6 thoughts on “It’s just laundry

  1. Oooooof. This one hit me right in the gut. So many laundry metaphors flood my brain, but I can’t quite find the way to tell you the tightness in my chest for you. If he even LOOKS at the garden funny, I am coming out there with my finger waving!

    Also, I desperately want a scoby! Teach me your ways.

    1. Yes. So far all his comments about the garden have been positive but that was before this economy began taking steroids.
      I have been something of a wannabe fermento for a while now but since g’s massive course of antibiotics, I have amped up my tinkering. The truth is that you can get a scoby online or even make one easily with a few commercial bottles (again, youtube is a great teacher). Then it’s as simple and complicated as cooking. It just takes time to find the right recipe for YOU. I’d love to compare notes!

  2. Ohh … I can feel your worry, even as you try to wash it away in the soapy water. I will send good thoughts that it’s “just the laundry” for a very long time.

    1. Thanks Justine. I sometimes think that my relationship to this town must be a little like the experience of being romantically involved with a megastar. It’s hard to separate out love from infatuation and there is this feeling that rejection is always just around the corner.

  3. This brought back memories. When I lived in your city, I had a rent controlled apartment that had been passed down for generations like a precious jewel, and my roommate made me park on the street so she could fill our parking spot with planters. And of course there was no on-site laundry. It’s a tough place to live–so many good things, but so many people who want the good things. I hope enough of the good stuff hangs on that you continue to enjoy living where you are, and that your landlord never sells. And if something changes, well, at least the gentrification has spread to the surrounding areas to the extent that many of them are filling up with good things, too.

    1. Funny. When we first moved here (12 years ago) things were already pretty crazy but they have gone into hyper madness with the tech boom. I do a lot of wondering whether it’s really worth it.
      I do wish you still lived here, though!!

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