It is quite difficult and terrifying to publicly write about my experiences that are exactly those, MY personal experiences. There is a certain level of fear when one makes their inner thoughts and experiences public. A few days ago I received feedback in reference to my Finding Comfort in Discomfort post. The fellow online commenter said, “it’s comforting knowing that other people are facing similar challenges in their life. And I commend you for hanging out your dirty laundry for everybody else to see.”
When I write, I utilize the process as an outlet of releasing memories and thoughts, which help me become more reflective about myself, which in turn helps me learn from my experiences. In an effort to constantly grow and evolve, I tend to recognize mistakes and hope to not commit them again, at least not in the same manner I did the first time. When that manifests into others benefiting from my writing, it just serves a bigger and more satisfying purpose. It was interesting that I was being commended for hanging out my “dirty laundry”, as I did not quite think of it that way. Nonetheless, it is true, I am exposing myself.
The very act of doing laundry is so different across the globe, as I discovered living in Europe. As I am able to complete a load of laundry under one hour and twenty minutes in the States, I think about my laundry machine in Barcelona. It took about two hours to wash the clothes, thirty minutes to hang it on the line, about three hours to dry in the summer and sometimes thirteen in the winter. However, I used to be fascinated walking the streets and seeing laundry lines with all types of garments. Quite voyeuristic, really. In fact, that is what I loved photographing the most.
When I moved to Europe, laundry became the most annoying chore for me, especially the hanging and collecting of it during the winter. As my ex-husband Oswaldo taught me how to properly hang clothes on a line, I slowly learned to accept the reality of tenuous weekly laundry that took hours to complete. You could never really count on wearing your favorite shirt last-minute if you realized it was in the dirty pile. A little about Oswaldo, is that he was very detail oriented and with a will power that surpassed anyone else I know. His attention to detail also complemented well with providing me with utmost attention as it related to my growth as a person. We met when I was 24. He always made sure that my comfort and happiness were in place in Spain, since I was the one who moved there for our relationship. As we drifted apart for multiple reasons throughout the years and went through a very friendly divorce, I realize that a lot of my identity has been reshaped for the better, thanks to him. You’re wondering why I tangle this story about laundry with my love and eventual divorce? In fact, one of the first trips we took as a couple was to Venice. Venice is the quintessential site for hung laundry.
When I studied abroad in Cordoba, Spain, I decided to go to Venice alone for the first time in November of 2004. On a taxi boat ride on the canals, I remembered thinking to myself that I wanted to return to Venice with the person I loved one day. As a 21-year-old, I really did not think that would become a reality seven years later with Oswaldo. In fact, I think I was justifying to myself at the time as to why I should not rent a gondola by myself. Not being financially ready ever as a couple to take any trips, Oswaldo and I took some risks and made some memories in Venice and other locations. What was so special about my wish in 2004, when I was not able to afford the gondola ride by myself, I told myself that the only time I want to be on a gondola was with the person I loved. Corny, right? Well, exactly seven years later, in November of 2011, I got to ride that gondola in the charming canals of Venice.
Life works in very mysterious ways sometimes. As we both walked through the laundry filled streets of Gothic, Byzantine and Moorish architecture, we found gratitude in each others presence. I particularly remember one drunk afternoon as we left L’Enoteca Cantinone Già Schiavi, a locale I recommend to everyone who goes to Venice.
Brangelina apparently love this place, as well. So, after four glasses of wine and delicious small sandwiches, the narrow streets seemed brighter and even more beautiful than one would imagine.
I remember twirling and dancing around, as we stumbled upon a gondola maintenance shop.This is my most vivid memory during a not so vivid moment as I was inebriated with delicious Venetian white wine and champagne.
Venice is one of those cities that lends itself to images of love, romance and tranquility. However, to me, it is a city floating on water with people who have decided they will stay regardless of its geographical and touristic inconvenience, because the beauty that surrounds them is worth the inconvenience of flooding, dampness and constant camera flashes. As they hang their clean laundry out for tourists to take thousands of snaps a day, they aren’t thinking of the design and aesthetics that photographers are capturing. This is just what it is for them. This is their life. There is no other place to dry those clothes. In fact, it might take days if not weeks for what was once dirty laundry to finally be clean again. As I slowly lay out my laundry (not sure if its dirty or clean yet) through my writing, I have to remember to possess the same patience I had when I had to wait for mine to dry in the cold or damp weather. It is not always a game of instant gratification. Good things take time to brew or stew. I sometimes lose perspective and don’t realize that the best things in life develop over time. My marriage which is no longer and my travels which continue to be, have all been and will be a part of that process. We’re all constantly in a state of being reshaped and making ourselves better. Next time you want to be hard on yourself, just think about that. You’re on the slow path. We all are. There is nothing wrong with that.