The laundromat in the Mission was hell, but it was also my private escape. The one down the street from my old apartment has terrible cell reception, no internet, and walls the color of congealed French’s mustard. Aside from a few flyers for yoga and writing classes, the only other decor is a wobbly table and two plastic lawn chairs. I sat in one of those chairs a while back while the machines did their thing. Every time I do laundry, I bring a notebook and try to eke out something creative. This time around, I brought art supplies for a new project: a photograph, tracing paper, a fine-point marker, and a blue pencil. I’d just put my things out when a mother and her two children came in to move their clothes from washers to dryers.
“A question in Spanish,” the woman said to her daughter as she stopped her son’s stroller next to her. “Something about soap and clothing that Annie can infer from her limited knowledge of Romance languages.”
“Si, Mami,” the girl said. As her mother hauled a family’s damp clothing out of the washers, the girl sat down at the table next to me. I smiled at her and she tucked her head away shyly, the way seven-year-old girls do. From a backpack she plucked a pencil, Xeroxed multiplication exercises, and a large pink eraser. Her homework was halfway done. (more…)