Robyn and Joel's Blog: Chronicling our Copenhagen Adventures

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Staying connected through laundry

I remember buying my first washer and dryer. Joel and I were just married and we used our “wedding money” to purchase our modest but elegant Kenmore washer and dryer. I was so proud. And, when our house in Carbondale flooded during a terrible storm, it was my washer and dryer that I guarded with layers and layers of towels. I wasn’t going to give up my washer and dryer without a fight.

Our little flat here in Copenhagen is not big enough for a washer and dryer. We use the laundry mat around the corner. It is quite nice and very convenient, but I do miss my washer. Wait, what did I just say? Just my washer? Yep… just my washer. I don’t use dryers anymore!

Actually, many people in Copenhagen don't use dryers. Almost every home has a rather large and elaborate drying rack and there are often clotheslines behind apartment buildings. So, winter, spring, summer and fall, we dry out clothes the old-fashioned way… by hanging them up. And, to my surprise, I love it. Sure, it is better for the environment (a lot better, actually, check the energy use on your home dryer – scary!), and easier on your clothes, but I like hanging my clothes outside because it reminds me of the women in my family. I have only a few very fuzzy memories of family-related laundry events, but I sort-of remember the clothesline outside our first house in Indiana… and a long line of white diapers hanging on it. And, I know that my great-grandmothers and grandmother had to hang their laundry outside to dry… and no, it was never glamorous or fun. In fact, it is a bit ironic: my great-grandmothers, grandmothers, and mother (and the men in my family too) worked very hard so I could one day not have to hang my laundry outside. But, now I have the choice. I can use the dryers (and before I sound too self-righteous, I have to admit I do use them from time to time) or hang our clothes outside. I am happy to choose to dry my clothes outside or on our rack. And, for the few moments I am alone hanging the laundry, I enjoy imagining all the women (and men) before me who took the time to hang laundry and I feel connected. A lot changes from generation to generation… but is nice to know some things stay the same. Things like laundry.

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