Is it all worth it?

It hasn’t even been a week since the last upperclassman moved back onto campus, but here I am, on a Friday morning, and I’m losing the battle to this laundry room.

The last time I was on campus, I had worked out a system: wake up bright and early with my alarm—unless my East-facing window and its blinding sunlight did the job for me—and get all my laundry into a machine by 7 am, then into the dryer by 7:35 am, so I can catch the Ferris breakfast avocado slime before it’s been touched by more people than my other, respected early-risers. It was fine; it worked well enough for my weekly laundry load because I’m a person of routine. And here I was, this Friday morning, all ready to do the same thing, except when I run down the first time—forgetting my mask, like a damn fool—all the washers and dryers that work (as yes, we’ve already lost a quarter of our machines to… problems, I suppose) are already full. It’s fine. It’s all fine. It’s not like I have an appointment across campus in 30 minutes and no other time to really do laundry today.

I wait 20 minutes. I think about my best friend, whose on-campus apartment at another school I also applied to came with a private washer-dryer. I think junior year is too late to transfer.

I go back down and take the last washer, having to dismiss another poor soul just trying to wash his shirts, or whatever, telling him to come back later. It’s my battle right now. I dash across campus to my appointment and try to not think about how my life feels irreversibly defined by doing laundry. I think about my other friend who once called my personal writing too melodramatic, even though I’m just like this. Sorry, Lizzy.

My appointment happens, and I make it back to the laundry room, where the washer I’m using is currently in its I’ll-spin-hard-enough-to-kill-a-man-and-rattle-the-windows phase. I feel, like I always do, that I should look away as this happens. The only thing I hate more than doing laundry is being a witness to the whole process.

Meanwhile, the room around me is in disarray. All the washers are still in use, somehow, and there remains one lone dryer for me to claim. Sheets have appeared where there were no sheets before, taking up all of the laundry bench and thus most of this small, small room. Their presumed owner is talking on the phone—which is indeed his right—and my laundry finishes. I scurry to move the wet clothes into, yes, the last dryer, double-checking all the corners in this circular machine for any errant socks. I’m winning the battle. It’s fine. Everything is fine. And as I move out of the way to start the dryer, thinking about the everyday use of metaphors of war and why my anxiety disorder makes me feel like I’m fighting for my life when I try to open the Tide pod bag, the man on the phone ducks under me to the washer I just used, the only available washer, every other one deep into their 27-minute cycles. And he puts in one towel. And he adds detergent, and he closes the door.

And he turns the machine on.

Emotionally, but not literally, the laundry room in question via Bwarchives