it is surprising what things are the most difficult about living in another country. of course, there are language misunderstandings and frustrations and cultural differences, and everything that one images would be shocking and hard to handle – and those are all there and quite difficult, but it really is the little things, the day-to-day things that just blow my mind with their ability to turn me into a total cry baby.
when i was coming home after four and half years of living in barcelona, before we moved to germany, a friend of mine asked me what i was most excited to do and i thought for awhile and finally said, completely truthfully, “my laundry”. now, i could have said any number of things – eating a burrito (at rico’s, specifically), going for a walk on the beach with my mom, getting tea and browsing through barnes and noble with sashi and elle, playing with my friend’s children, having breakfast with my mom and dad on a sunday morning, etc, etc, etc… but honestly, after years of washers that didn’t quite get everything clean, hanging my clothes out to dry from windows and on terraces, where they were sure to be shat on by the million pigeons perched atop the buildings, that cruncy, hard, my-fabric-softner-doesn’t-work feeling and detergent that i was inevitably allergic to (even after i understood the words on the bottles of the super-sensitive hypo-allergenic ones), i was ecstatic at the thought of my mother’s washer and dryer, with its stores of all free and clear.
so now, here i am again, in a new country with a new washer and drier and more words that i don’t quite understand, even when i google translate them, just trying to do my laundry.
after a horrible day yesterday, spent watching most of season two of community, eating everything possible in the house and sitting on the couch judging myself for it, today had started off well. i was feeling quite positive about what i would accomplish and began with the laundry, so i could finish it early (and not leave clothes in the communal dryer just when the upstairs neighbor wants to use it as i keep doing somehow). i came back upstairs, changed into my workout clothes and had breakfast and tea, while reading the paper (meaning, of course, facebook).
everything was still looking pretty good: here i was, off for a run – starting week three of my couch-to-5k program (yes, it has been more than three weeks since i’ve started, and i’m ok with that), and best of all, the sun was out. i don’t want to jinx it yet and talk about how it’s been raining for what has felt like an eternity (but in reality is about a month and a half), because i know from experience that that will only bring the rain back. suffice it to say, it was looking to be a beautiful day. it was still what “normal” people call morning and i was already accomplishing things.
i went downstairs to check on the laundry, thinking i’d just start a second load before i went for my run. the washer was still going, but i figured it would just be a few minutes until it was done – after all, it had already been an hour or so since i’d started it. how long can the wash cycle be, really? i sat down on the stairs and fiddled with my phone for a bit, until i got annoyed and started chatting with james.
an hour later, i was still there. what was i doing that whole time? going crazy. at first, i was reading interesting things on my phone, catching up with hellogiggles and postsecret, and chatting with james, and then, as time went on, i started going a little bit insane (an example from our chat: “TWO FUCKING HOURS OUR WASHER TAKES… AT LEAST, CUZ IT HASN’T FUCKING STOPPED YET”). i was literally just standing there, staring down at the washer, thinking, it’s just gotta stop sometime, it’s just gotta stop soon and eventually, i was crying. crying because my whole day had somehow broken down, crying because i had wasted an hour sitting there but mostly because things like this were just so frustrating and there was nothing i could do about it.
in the end, my question was answered. how long can the wash cycle be? almost three hours. and i sat there for at least an hour and a half of it. now obviously, i was using the wrong cycle and “koch-buntwäsche” doesn’t mean normal wash. and that shouldn’t be a big deal, after all, it’s just laundry. it should just be a funny story i tell friends on skype. but let’s be honest, life is pretty hard as is, so all those “normal” things in life that just are, that you take for granted are easy, like doing the laundry, need to be easy. when they aren’t, it makes the big things that much more difficult.
it really does seem, sometimes, that for every little step i take and every hard to muster bit of energy i extend towards getting healthy and being happy, the universe (or god?) knocks me down. sometimes, it really does seem like i’m trying so hard and instead of feeling supported by the powers that be, i feel continuously put back in my place.
and yes, james is right – it was good to find out that i was using the wrong cycle and i still did get out for a run and maybe i should be happy about that and proud that i overcame a tiny little frustrating obstacle (that should mean nothing) and went on with my day. and i suppose part of me is. but most of me just wishes that the little things in life, like laundry, weren’t so hard.