Monday, February 22, 2010
(image via weheartit.com)One of the main reasons I decided to go into journalism (if we can really call me "in" it) is because I love people. I love everything about humanity: our interactions, our feeling, our secrets, our thoughts, our stories. There's almost nothing I'd rather do than sit down with someone, anyone in the entire world, and just talk. There's an exhilaration when you see someone, when you talk to them and find out what has made them who they are and who they think they are.
Since I was 7 years old, I've just wanted to know about everyone. Yeah, it's a bit nosy, but I just want to find out everything about everyone. It's utterly amazing how different every single person is. You can walk right by someone, and never know that he saved a woman's life two years ago. Or that woman you just bumped into was her high school's prom queen. Or that the man walking in front of you served four terms in Iraq. Or that the little child you see in the stroller almost didn't make it. Or that respectable librarian you just checked out a book from goes home and gets high every night. Or that the woman holding that little boy's hand is his adoptive mother. Every little thing in a person's life has altered his or her course somehow, and it's such a thrill to discover these things.
For a long time, I haven't had that desire to know anymore. I don't know why, but at the end of college, that want for stories faded. I don't think it was necessarily lost, but it certainly was not there for me. My love for writing remained, but my spark of intrigue couldn't find its light. I was really sad for awhile, and there were even a couple months I was desperate to have it back. I did a lot of things: went out with friends, people watched, sat in a park, viewed films, listened to music--I was searching for anything to relight that fire. And I never found it.
I went to the laundromat with my mom today. We have a washer and dryer, but they're not big enough to wash bed comforters (for the last 6 years I haven't had a comforter on my bed. I currently sleep with a top sheet and five blankets. Really.) so we had to go find the industrial size ones.
Being in that Coin Laundry today reignited something. While waiting for three comforters to finish up, I started looking around and focusing on the people around me. Coin Laundries have never had the best reputation, because people think that if you don't have a washer/dryer unit, you either a) can't afford one, or b) don't live in a place that provides them or offers the service. Plus, I have to admit, some shady people do hang around them. But...I know that to be wrong, because here my family is, with our own but one that's not industrial size to hold a Queen comforter. What about the others?
A family, young parents with a son, probably 7 or 8 years old...I don't remember much of the kid except his lips were really blue because of a lollipop he was eating. Perhaps a struggling family? I thought so too until I saw the countless numbers of expensive clothing they were pulling from the machines. And then they packed it all away into an Escalade with tricked out rims. Maybe not a struggling family, but one that puts its priorities into...different ones than mine. Maybe they, like me, have their own machines but they don't work right now. If so, it must happen a lot because they knew their way around the laundromat and how to work the machines without reading any of the directions or procedures. Who really knows?
There were two small filipinos, a husband and a wife (if you saw the way they worked together, you would know, too). They also knew the machines, but I got the distinct feeling they were there because they had just gotten back from a vacation and had so many clothes to wash. Something about the fact they had seven Ikea bags bulging with clothes, all of which were shorts and tanks.
And the one that struck me most was a very nondescript man who entered with a singular laundry bag. He was quiet, walked behind most people, quietly loaded his wet clothes into a dryer, and left again. He wore a plain flannel shirt, plain jeans, nondescript Nikes, a hat over his head. Older, probably mid-40s or 50s. And I have to say, I didn't really notice him that much--but what got me was his laundry. As he'd loaded the dryers directly underneath the ones we were occupying, I started watching his clothes tumble. It was only his, so of course I wondered: is he married? Is he divorced? Never married? Widower? And then I saw two flannel shirts, two pairs of jeans, a t-shirt. Where are work clothes? Are those his work clothes? What does he do? Maybe he dry cleans them? Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to ask this man about his life and find out his story. Why is he here on a sunday night by himself with only his own clothes--and very few, at that? I want to know.
I found a little bit of me again today. And it's so nice to have it back.