Beyond the line
Posted on October 21st, 2013
here’s a clothesline in our backyard.
I could tell you that it is stretched out between two struggling, weedy trees because, after much considered thought, we determined that it was the least we could do to reduce our environmental impact. I don’t want to diminish the trust we’ve built, though, and so I will confess to you now that the clothesline was installed out of fear and in anticipation of massive mechanical failure.
Our dryer died the first time two years ago. I’d press the start button and nothing would happen. I remember doing the thing that you do on in those instances—repeating the same action over and over again in the childish hope that one of those clicks would be the one to call it back from beyond the veil.
No such luck.
As I brooded over our suddenly dryer-less existence, initializing the first, painful steps of Wendy-Math to work out just how much money we were talking about here to replace it, Scott announced that maybe—just maybe—this was a problem that could be fixed. I looked from Scott to the quiet, hulking beast waiting to be retired to the wasteland of dead appliances and somehow managed to keep from rolling my eyes. A dead clothes dryer was like stoichiometry to me—frustrating but, ultimately, just bigger than I was. There was nothing to be wrestled with or worked out here. Our dryer was dead; time to start pricing new ones.
But in the same way that balancing chemical equations is a real practice and not the stuff of science fiction (the way I liked to claim it was when I was getting my ass handed to me in chemistry), dryer repair is an actual thing. Rather than running on pixie dust and positive energy, our dryer needed functioning fuses to work. Scott replaced one that had blown and, just like that, there were fluffy towels aplenty.
And then, a few months back, the dryer began to labor at its work, emitting baleful grinding noises. Scott and I looked at each other out of the corner of our eyes and then quickly away. Better to pretend we hadn’t heard it, we tacitly agreed, but it was then that the clothesline made an equally quiet appearance in the backyard.
For weeks, I looked at the line through lowered lids, resentful. The clothesline was a reminder of every unrelated thing that might be breaking apart around me. But at some point that changed and I began to see those clothes drying in the arid out of doors as a blessed a half-measure, the first of several on the road to accepting our changed fortunes, and progress of its own for all that.
(And, no kidding around, it is way greener.)∗