I’m 29 years old and as I write this my now ex-boyfriend (who is currently my sub leaser, best friend, past life husband, loyal fan, and all around amazing man) is installing my new washer and dryer in my LA apartment. I literally could not be happier. It is as if you had just given me a diamond necklace and a 10 week old puppy. Let me explain why a washer and dryer is gold in my eyes.
Growing up in a tiny village in Russia we didn’t have indoor plumbing. We had a well and luckily a creek near by. This makes for a gorgeous off the grid picture but life is messy and eventually you have to clean. Doing laundry was next level difficult.
In the summer my mother would take my brother and I to the creek for laundry days. We would play together swimming naked and be wild children as my mother painstakingly tried to remove stains with whatever communist government issued soap we had at the time. Slowly using a wash board up and down she’d go with our clothes and then thanks to the creeks current she’d rinse… thanks to the sun our laundry would dry near by. Summer laundry wasn’t so bad since it’s pretty and warm and we were too young to realize my mothers hard labor near by. How she got real farm stains out with government issued soap and a wash board God only knows.
(Quick mention that this woman washed all of our cloth diapers by hand as well… in other words she’s a Saint)
In the winter things got interesting. Now you have to carry well water two buckets at a time to your house, boil this freezing water until it reached a manageable warm temperature and proceeded to scrub your hands raw with your friendly wash board and bar of soap. Here’s the tricky part now that everything is “clean” but full of soap… how the hell do you rinse? This is where my mother’s genius kicks in. She would take wool socks, put them on her hands, then put on giant rubber gloves and bundle up. She would then haul our soapy loads of laundry to the creek and rinse our clothes in freezing water all while trying to stay semi warm and semi dry.
When I got a little older (5 or so) I started helping my mother with the laundry. As much as a little kid could. Scrub on the wash board and then rinse in the creek. We never got the sense of satisfaction from all of this work since it didn’t seem to ever end. Right around this time we moved into a bigger village… it had 15-18 houses. Our home (thanks to my fathers techniques of thievery) had indoor plumbing. In the sense that we had water coming into the kitchen sink. We still had an outhouse bathroom connected to the barn. Laundry was still the beast it always was and then our neighbor opened the door (literally) to our new way of cleaning.
Our neighbor Tanya was a milk maid at the dairy farm not too far from the village. Dairy farms have indoor plumbing and tubs to wash the machinery and hold the milk. The words indoor plumbing and tubs made my moms ears perk up. We were now given the keys by the generous Tanya to sneak into the dairy farm and use the tubs and water for our laundry. We could wash, scrub, and rinse like queens with what seemed like endless hot water.
I loved the dairy farm. It was clean and quiet in the rooms with the tubs. My mother and I were alone in this huge facility that smelled of milk. It was peaceful. I remember my mothers happiness now that the chore was somewhat easier, still manual and grueling but a massive upgrade from the creek. We even scored some free sour cream when the delivery truck was late and the milk would turn.
Soon after our dairy farm break ins, the government collapsed and with it the dairy farm. This part of my life is hard to recall since everything changed but the ability to wash away ones grime and dirt with less backbreaking effort stuck with me.
Two years of paperwork and standing in custom lines later, we moved to America. I was now 8 years old and we had just rented a small house and in the basement were two magic grime reducing machines: A washer and dryer!
Never mind the new land, government, McDonald’s, and foreign language. I could now wash and then dry stuff. My mind was officially blown. So began my journey of finding out what bleach was. How much detergent do I use? What is this “gentle” cycle? Holy shit, fabric softener? We can make denim soft vs hard from drying in the sun and bar soap? I wasn’t yet tall enough to reach the buttons so I had a step stool designated for my work. From the age of 8 to 18 I was responsible for all of the family laundry. My mother worked with my father and I cleaned. I didn’t mind it and actually found peace from it.
Here I was controlling a magic machine that took the hardships of the day away with the help of fairy dust aka detergent.
That first washer and dryer represented all of the new opportunities for me in America. Here in this foreign land tired and dirty things could transform into clean new ones with the help of innovation. I could do this hard task all by myself and my mother wouldn’t ever have to rinse our clothes in the creek again.
A washer taught me that I could work smarter not harder. I could save time for my loved ones, and I could be in control of an outcome.
Yeah, I love a good washer and dryer…. don’t even get me started on the steam mop.