Thoughts From a Laundromat

I’ve reached an all-time low.

I haven’t done laundry in 3 months.

In my defense, I’ve moved from one state to another, started a new job, still make time for my social life, run my own business where I average 5-7 photoshoots a week and edit 3-4 hours a day, and just bought an older home that I’m renovating. I’m sort of busy and laundry just fell to the bottom of the “to-do” list, especially since I could raid Baylee’s closet. When I was finished with hers, I went to my mom’s closet. Finally, I ventured into my dad’s closet, and then my boyfriend’s closet, and even my boyfriend’s brother’s closet (but only once and I was really desperate.)

But because Tom, Britt, Patrick, and I leave for Punta Cana in 4 days and because I was tired of dressing like a man, I either had to wash my clothes or buy new ones. My mom is a mad genius and suggested I knock all 12 loads out in an hour, so here we sit.

At a laundromat.

Speaking of moving, I did that this weekend. I’m so relieved not to have my belongings scattered across the southeast anymore. Now they’re just scattered about the floor of a 100-year-old farmhouse as I wade through them, wondering where to even start.

I will admit, despite how great things are going right now, it was strange to leave Chatttanooga. I drove up early Friday morning to pack  – my family and Tom were coming in that night to help me load and clean so we’d be out of there by Saturday. But instead of pack, I spent all Friday afternoon gallivanting across the town hitting up my all-time favorite spots, doing anything to avoid going back to my dark, dreary apartment to pack up the little life I had created there. When I finally convinced myself that I had to have at least one box packaged up by the time my family arrived, I realized that I hadn’t brought anything to wrap my stuff up in…like tissue paper or bubble wrap. Ever prepared, as always.

Since my first day at the Times Free Press, I’ve saved every single paper from every single day. (You’ll see me on the next episode of Hoarders.) Throughout the year, I’d built a skyscraper out of them in the corner of my living room, thinking one day I’d get around to organizing and pulling my photos out for my mom to scrapbook. (Kidding.) Since I couldn’t pack until I had something to wrap things in and since I had a stack of papers perfect for wrapping things in…

I went through six months of papers, 183 days, in two hours.

And I cried. Like a newborn baby. Like the ugly cry, but a happy cry. Because it’s not that I was sad, I just knew that that particular time in my life had come to an end. I wouldn’t be the same person that I was then ever again. My friends would be different, my priorities would be different, my days would be spent in a similar, but different way. I wouldn’t be the girl living in a tiny, single-bedroom apartment in the mountains. But during the six months I was there, I realized I didn’t want to be that person forever. I sat on my floor for two hours and just remembered.

The kindness of the family that had lost their 3-month-old baby to a tornado but had dinner set out for the reporter and I when we arrived for the interview.

The photo that landed on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, when I woke up to an angry email from a source asking me why it had been on television.

The 12 hour day I spent climbing through what was left of people’s homes trying to find the words to say to them after they’d just about lost everything from the tornado.

The elderly man who, when I told him I wasn’t allowed to accept the wooden bowl he had made for me, told me to tell whoever said that to “kiss his white ass.”

The baseball championship game that lasted forever. No hits for the first 2 hours of the game…poor Ward had to buy me a hotdog and Gatorade to calm me down.

The family I met and spent time with during a feature I did on them and their peanut-butter eating donkey, Jack.

The morning I shot a piece about children with autism and a little girl walked over to me, smiled, and crawled into my lap and fell asleep.

The photograph to go along with a story about the future of the Bessie Smith Strut that I shot when my boss called me and told me I had 30 minutes to get an A1 center photo.

Afternoons spent in rubber boots hanging out with my beloved penguins.

The little girl battling cancer and her first reaction to her made-over bedroom volunteers surprised her with after she got out of the hospital.

Helping Charlie find the grave of his deceased aunt so he could put a yellow rose there in her honor. Together we found the grave, but I got the rose.

The day I spent all morning riding the public bus system with Kevin, a 23-year-old blind man who told the reporter and me, “I don’t let nothing get in my way.”

Every single photograph was a memory. People invited me into their homes, their offices, their lives and let me tell their stories. Each one of them had an impact on me.

Not all of them were good assignments. I couldn’t help but laugh to keep from crying when I came across yet another photo of a solar panel. I felt my heart sink when I came across the 1-year anniversary piece we did in remembrance of those lost in the April 27th tornados. I cried as I saw Doug’s photo of the grief-stricken wife kissing the casket of her husband who had died in a car wreck.

It was the last time I would be alone, perfectly content in my loneliness. Just me and the photos I spent six months taking. It was the perfect, quiet ending to my life there. By midnight, I had my entire life wrapped up in newspapers. The same newspaper that had wrapped up my life completely for six months.

Anyway.

My 12 loads of laundry are done.

Observations from moving:

1)   It took one trailer to move me TO Chattanooga, but TWO trailers and 3 vehicles to move me out.

2)   Baylee is worthless when moving.

3)   Aphid is worthless when moving.

4)   I am worthless when moving.

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