Sunday, November 09, 2014

Washing his clothes

Today, as I was cleaning, preparing for my friend Carole's visit, I came across Mark's clothes. He had brought them over hastily, late for the train that would take him west, far away from here and from us. I found them in the room his sister once had, now a guest room.

I was doing a load of darker clothes, so I pulled the non-whites out, one by one, then in groups. Some of them carried memories, others not.

It had been years since I had washed my child's clothes. In desperation one day when my children were probably about 10, 12, and 14, I said--"Okay, you are going to do your own laundry now." I was tired of the work, washing clothes for five, and of the complaints of not being able to find clean or unwrinkled clothes or matching socks. The job was delegated to them, and I never looked back.

Till today. Even though I think these clothes were cleaned (at  least before they were left here), I could still smell Mark in them. He is a physical worker and player--hauling sheetrock or mudding walls by day, hiking, climbing, biking and exploring by night and on weekends. The clothes smelled like exertion and adventure.

Today I launder without complaining. I remember the little boy, before the long hair and bushy beard--back, back, to the jeans I washed when he was in grade school, the myriad t-shirts, socks that seemed to multiply like rabbits, towels, bedding, sweatshirts and pajamas. I remember washing baby clothes in Dreft detergent, as I had washed his brother's before him.

Now, my link to him is my phone, where I receive  occasional texts and calls  as he bikes from Seattle on down to northern California with his buddy Steve. I try not to worry, to think of all the things that could go wrong. Instead, I remember, and hope for the time I'll see him again, smell his clothes as I embrace my boy, and hear of adventures out west.

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