It’s an odd experience watching someone fold your underwear.
I was thinking about this yesterday as I was waiting for my laundry. When my husband, Peter, and I packed to go to Mexico, we knew there would be a wide range of temperatures. San Miguel de Allende is in the mountains so the days can be quite hot, and the nights can be cold. The weather changes a lot in November everywhere, so we had to be prepared for anything.
We do not have a washing machine in the little place we rent, so I walk a few blocks to the tiny neighborhood laundry and leave my clothes there.
The truth is I don’t need a lot of clothes. I joked during the pandemic that all I wore were pajamas at night and clothes that looked like pajamas during the day. This has not changed significantly. Ninety percent of the time, I am wearing the same uniform.
Yesterday, all the variations on my uniform were dirty, so I went to the laundry.
The laundry service holds two washing machines, two dryers, and a constantly changing cast of one to three cheerful women who weigh the laundry, wash it, throw it in the dryer, carefully fold it on top of the two dryers and return it to my laundry bag for approximately three dollars.
If I leave it in the afternoon, I must wait until the next day to pick it up. But since I don’t have that many clothes, I try to get there before noon. They will then tell me to return at three o’clock to pick it up. Three o’clock does not mean precisely three o’clock—I know this by now—so I will come a little later. But even so, they were not quite finished when I arrived yesterday. So I stood on the sidewalk (There is no room for a customer in this tiny place!) and waited while my underwear was folded.
For the record, I don’t usually fold my underwear. I’m not sure if that makes me a savage, but I just don’t. It doesn’t wrinkle, and it doesn’t seem to stay folded, so I don’t see the point. But the two ladies at the laundry were carefully folding my undies, and there was nothing I could say to stop them. They also folded all of Peter’s socks and Peter’s underwear, and I stood by, helpless, not feeling I deserved—or wanted—quite this much customer service.
The laundry ladies were not in a hurry. They were chatting away, oblivious to the anxious gringo lady standing at the counter on the sidewalk, and I realized I had no reason to be anxious—in either sense of the word. I was not in a hurry and certainly, when it comes to underwear, these ladies had seen it all. So I tried to relax while I waited for my laundry.
And, as I watched them, it occurred to me how little I really need. That small pile of clothes was everything Peter and I had worn for the last two weeks, and we had everything we needed. I thought of all the clothes I have at home and wondered how they earned their keep.
That is, perhaps, one of the greatest gifts this time in Mexico gives us. It’s good to be reminded that I have enough clothes and I have enough time. It’s good to be reminded that, most of the time, living simply is better. And it’s good to remember that it doesn’t really matter if someone sees my underwear.
Till next time,