It's Really Not Kool & The Gang

It's Really Not Kool & The Gang
Photo by Ty Williams on Unsplash

for tired folk who want to carve out space for themselves

I’m writing this while holed up in the nicely appointed laundry room my landlord has carved out of the basement of a small brick apartment building in Brooklyn. There is a nice futon, magazines, books, a fan, a sip sink, large folding table and a free washer and dryer. It’s always clean and the entryway leads to our shared backyard. I’ve already washed and folded a couple of loads, which I had to re-sort because my artist-daughter is serious about making sure that similar hues are grouped together. No one has the desire or time to wash 50-11 micro loads.

As I lamented about doing laundry (it’s another chore!), I remembered how washing and folding were a meditative practice for me. I got caught up I the thoughts of labor, but forgot that sometimes labor is in service to other things, like my spirit. It also helps the I get to be alone in a space that is not my apartment. While I love my apartment and all the ways it supports me, I feel as though I always have to be in charge in that space. The dueling roles of mama and educator make it difficult for me to relax although it’s not like I don’t try. I do, I really do.

I need more spaces like this laundry room. Spaces where I don’t have to be on. Spaces where I can lean out of the world with ease. Spaces where I can just do/be without guilt. See, guilt is the kicker. Whenever I am upstairs in my apartment, relaxation or chilling, comes with a pang of guilt. I should be doing something — cleaning, grading, writing, editing, helping… Sometimes I just want to eat an orange and watch an episode of Murder, She Wrote. And while I do manage to allow myself that time, my brain is shaming me like a Caribbean grandmother. Sometimes (lots of times!), the guilt freezes me. It becomes this cycle whereby I feel guilty for not doing it, then I do a load of administrative and personal work, then I am too tired to be creative, then I feel shameful, then I try to reset/rest, then guilt. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I’ve had friends tell me that I am on this merry-go-round because I don’t take time to mark my important milestones. I don’t celebrate myself enough. If I celebrated, that would help fuel my creativity and the rest I need, they say. I give them the side eye, but I know they are somewhat right. The thing is, my idea of celebration isn’t a large group of people (though I do accept gifts), it’s time alone. Now, if someone wants to throw me a shindig and all I have to do is show up, that’s another story. But the work that has to go into large and even smedium celebrations is not work that I care for. Give me a weekend, or even a day away to just be.

I’m going to create more spaces like this. This few hours away from the world in the laundry room is exactly what I needed. I will celebrate myself for whatever reason (big or small) in my own way, whenever I want or need to. It’s time I hop off this merry-go-round.