Scenes From My Life: Small pleasures in a puzzling world

One evening last week, I took my laundry down to the basement laundry room where I saw a woman I like and hadn’t seen in a while, whatever “a while” means. Probably longer than it sounds.

She and I exchanged warm hi’s and she said, “I haven’t seen you in a while.” Somehow I found myself answering,”I haven’t seen me in a while, either.” And remarked on the oddness of the times in which normal friendly encounters have become so reduced.

She and I mused about this, how strange things were, how vague and imprecise. She said interesting things, and remarked, “It’s impossible to know whether we’ll get back to the way things were or what they’ll become.”

“Right,” I said. And it occurred to me without those large certainties about life, how small things become more pleasurable. Like laundry, doing laundry. It’s under our control, it’s what we need to do and doing it feels very nice. A satisfying accomplishment instead of a domestic chore.

She agreed. She was folding her laundry on one of the big tables in the laundry room. During COVID, our staff had removed the tables and I’d gotten accustomed to taking my bag of clean laundry upstairs and pouring everything out on my bed, where I’d do my folding. Another small pleasure: instead of having to stand in the laundry room, fold my stuff and get it all back into the bag during one continuous period of time, I can leave it on the bed and fold at my leisure, or while watching a movie I’d seen years ago and do not need to focus on. Or fold in between getting my dinner ready.

A small thing, laundry. But a nice one.

And then there are my new wash clothes. Larger than my old ones, almost frivolous in their highly textured fluffy surface, yet with the soft abrasion my skin counts on.

Like my bathroom floor tiles, my new wash clothes are dark gray. They were a bargain, too, especially considering the pleasure they give me whenever I touch them.

Small, inexpensive, certain pleasures in an otherwise uncertain world.

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