I was originally planning on writing about why I am scared of my laundry basket.
Not the basket itself, per se, but the heaps of clean clothes I put into it every week and never fold, because why do that when you live alone? Where was my accountability?
My laundry basket looms large in my second bathroom. It always takes up a fair share of the floor, making my heart race up into my throat and punch at me furiously every time I look at it. It was an immense chore that frightened me to the point of blatantly ignoring it.
But then my boyfriend of nearly three years broke up with me. So this is instead a piece about heartbreak, and my laundry basket will somehow become a metaphor for how I cope with losing my best friend.
If I can pull that off, then I am truly a great writer. Or a terrible one. I guess it depends on your perspective.
The longest I went without folding my laundry and putting it away was probably four months. I just cycled from basket-hamper-washer-dryer-basket over and over. Why did I need to put them away? I live alone, and that takes time that could be spent reading or cleaning my ears with q-tips or staring out the window at the shingles on the condo across the lot.
My boyfriend nearly never complained about the mountain of laundry he had to navigate in order to use the bathroom. Occasionally he would say something and smile and shake his head, like, look how adorably disorganized and awful you are at adulting, and I’d smile sweetly and leave the laundry where it was. He was terrible at adulting in some ways, too, so he could only push me so far.
Recently, once my depression started to wear off, I started to fold my laundry and put it away. I was also preparing for my boyfriend’s week-long “let’s practice living together” spring break and I wanted to appear especially homey. What good was letting my boyfriend claim the extra bathroom if I was inconsiderate about leaving enough space to actually navigate from the toilet to the sink (The bathroom is pretty small, you see)? I wanted to prove I could Adult and be organized and clean and show him how good my home could be for the both of us.
And it was great, for that week. It was the happiest I’d been in months. Even my dog was happier, and he’s already one of those animals you’d wish would take a breath and be a teensy bit less excited about life. My boyfriend said he was happy, too.
I was finishing folding the laundry and putting it away when he arrived at my house to end things.
I had guessed it was coming–I’d been scratching at my journal about it for months, about how I love him and could see our future but knew he was holding back, and how I couldn’t wait around for him to finally let me in. I couldn’t force him to fold his laundry for me, if you get that terrible, nagging metaphor.
And yet it still broke me. I thought if I had been patient enough, kind enough, loved him enough, he would come around. He was always hesitant, and I didn’t blame him because I, too, have been destroyed by someone I loved. I just figured he needed the time to get to the same place I was.
So I had cleaned my house and folded my laundry and convinced myself I was good enough, and then, once again, I was proven otherwise. But this time it’s not because I’m not good enough. I mean, sure, that’s how I feel and probably how I’ll feel for a while, but it’s because he couldn’t–or wouldn’t–learn how to fold his laundry. He couldn’t move past his wall, and that has nothing to do with my worthiness. He expected to have fairytale feelings, and all I had to offer was my decision to love him every day and a dog that sheds an ungodly amount.
Oh, but the small voice in my head is living off the if you were worthy, he’d try harder. If you were worthy, this wouldn’t have happened. If you were worthy, there would be no walls.
And that’s not true. My ability to love with my heart wide open on a pile of neatly folded clothes has nothing to do with someone else’s inability to let me see their heart at all.
I believe in loving with all of your heart, always. Yes, this hurts. I don’t know who to talk to during my day because he was always the first and last person I spoke to each day. I don’t know how to come home and look at all the things he helped me do to make my house a home: do I get rid of the bedframe he helped put together? the mattress he helped me choose? the shelves he hung? the towels he used? the side table he bought me? the art he gave me for Christmas? the pickles I have in the fridge because he loves pickles? I don’t know, but I do know that I loved him with everything I had.
Life is too short not to love someone with everything you have, to fold your laundry for that person, because otherwise you are just setting yourself up to be surrounded by your dirty laundry.
And if you workout as much as I do, that would really, really stink.