October 1, 2010

The Laundry Room

retro 2, originally uploaded by linus_lohoff.

Emma snuggled her soft pink cheek into the crook of my neck.  I breathed in the familiar powdery scent of baby and covered her up with a soft blanket, still warm from the dryer.  I stood there for a moment, quietly rocking from side-to-side in the ancient mommy dance, shifting my weight from hip to hip in rhythm with the white noise lullaby of the dryer.  I stopped for a second to pull a faded yellow blanket from the dryer and draped it over her and tucked it around her sleeping body.

I was in the heart of our home.  The laundry room was warm and silent.  It smelled of fabric softener and faintly of spray starch, and, for some reason, I always felt completely safe here.  This was a housewife’s unofficial sacred space.  In this sanctuary, mothers transform dirty laundry to clean, neatly folded piles of clothing.  It is physical proof that we love our family, and we clothe them with that love.  Even our choice of detergent and stain remover is a declaration of love.  Almost magically, a mom can resurrect a favorite t-shirt seemingly ruined by stray drippings from a melting Popsicle.  

It was in this center of my home where I often found myself dancing my children to sleep, sneaking bites of fruit roll-ups by the handful, and every once in a while crying hidden behind the door, my sobs muffled by the spin cycle.  (If your husband thinks you are in the throes of a huge load of laundry, he will not interrupt).  It is the perfect escape.  Rearrange the piles of laundry just a little, and voila --

instant Mom Fort.

Today was my birthday and my wedding anniversary, and our house was a quiet safe-haven to celebrate the milestone of our 14 years of marriage.

            There was a knock at the door.  I stopped moving and strained my ears to listen for my husband’s footsteps.  Deciding that I didn’t hear any, I stepped out into the living room and glanced at the kitchen wall clock.  9:35 PM.  As I made my way to the door, still holding Emma, I ran through a quick list of people that it could be, but couldn’t arrive at any likely candidates. 

As I approached the glass-paneled front door, I could see that the front porch light threw a yellowish glare onto the grave faces of two police officers as they stood motionless on the other side of the door. 

Little did I know, my safe suburban refuge was about to be demolished.

{from the journal entries writing project}

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