Andrew’s Dirty Laundry

What can I say? I enjoy some strange things, or so it may seem to others.
Nobody could understand why I wanted go to India on a spiritual boot camp.
“Why do you want to sleep on floors? What’s so great about having to wash with a bucket in a toilet stall? And what’s this collapsible bucket for?” Those are the questions that some of my family and friends asked me when I announced my intentions to spend two months traveling by bus throughout India on a spiritual journey with my teacher, Amma, in January 2008.
“Is there no other way to go to Heaven?” a dear friend joked.
But I have to say that a lot of people are equally baffled by and tease me about my enjoyment of all things domestic—laundry and ironing being chief amongst them.

Yesterday, after collecting Andrew’s younger brother who’d spent the weekend with his sister – they went to see the Nutcracker together – I felt the need to go to Andrew’s dorm. Initially NYU had asked us to clear his room by the Thanksgiving weekend, and I had said “fine, whatever.”
But then we, my family, thought, we can’t! It’s hard enough to get through Thanksgiving twenty-two days after Andrew’s death, without having to undertake the task, emotional more than physical, of clearing his room. NYU agreed to give us until after Christmas. And so his belongings are still there.
I had been there once, a few days after Andrew had died. I had not wanted to take anything then. But this time I got it into my head that I wanted his laundry hamper to come home.
“I must wash his things; it’s been a long time since I last did his laundry,” I kept thinking.

“He’ll come home on the 23rd, two days before Christmas and deposit a month’s worth of washing at my feet.”
“I thought that since I was coming home…” he’ll say with a smile. I’ve heard that before, and after only the pretense of a grumble I will get on with it.

Then I remember, I always remember. I look at his unwashed things, I take a pair of socks out of the hamper; they are all rolled up, because I suppose he didn’t take them off, he rolled them off his feet. I hold them to my nose, and I smile remembering that he didn’t like the “I’m-about-to-walk- off” smell of French cheeses. But his socks, even though they have been worn, smell worn not “smelly.”

I’m in a quandary now, I feel an urge to wash his clothes, iron what needs to be ironed, neatly fold what needs to be folded, arrange it all tidily in his closet and drawers, ready for him to just reach for what he needs.

But then, shit, shit, shit, I always remember. He will not need any of his clothes, again.

Well then, I’ll hold on to them as they are. I’ll hold on to the smell of Andrew they still carry for as long as I can.

There is a lot more that I want to talk about, but we, we have time.


3 thoughts on “Andrew’s Dirty Laundry

  1. ahhh….the smell. Kerry had a habit of bypassing socks and underwear. The odor from his gray new balance sneakers was horrendous, we used to make him leave them just outside the door. and now, I’d stand in line to catch a whiff. wait, thats so not true….. 🙂 but I’d certainly stand in line to catch a smile, and I think I just caught one. so strongly I feel him laughing with me, at me, with me. he’s not gone, he’s not gone. Andrew, meet Kerry. Kerry, meet Andrew.

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