A million years ago when I was an undergrad at Cal State Fullerton, the Women Studies program decided to assign students in the program a mentor. I was assigned one Dr. S-, a crusty ol' poly-sci prof who rode horses, drank liberally, and smoked enough cigarettes to give her a voice so gravely it rivaled Tom Waitts. She was short, wicked smart, quick on her feet and definitely not warm and fuzzy. To my young self, Prof S- was a fairly intimidating creature, aloof, always looking beyond me, thinking deep professorial thoughts I was certain. Her office was a mess, the typical kind of professor mess, papers stacked high, books everywhere.
I met with Prof S- only once and I still remember the encounter clearly. I sat down in the windowless office, a little nervous and waited to get "mentored". Prof S- gave me a quick, gruff "hello" and smile and then said to me, "Life is laundry." "Ok" I said, thinking "that's it? life is fucking laundry?" Our meeting was brief and I was on my way. "Life is laundry"? That's what the brilliant Prof S- has for me? I left thinking that was a waste of time and I never made another appointment to see Prof S- and she never again reached out to me. Apparently, that was the extent of the mentoring I needed....or was to be afforded.
It's been more than 20 years since I sat in Prof S-s office, nervous, waiting for her words of wisdom. And in those 20 years I have come to realize the profound truth and utility in what she chose to say to me that day. Sometimes all your shit's dirty, a mess, the hamper is overflowing and you're wearing that last pair of underwear that you should have tossed 'cause it rides up your ass. And then there are times when all your shit is clean, neatly folded, put away in closets and drawers and you just stepped out of the shower and put on a fresh smelling shirt. And you finally tossed those old underwear AND it's friggin' sunny outside. But the one thing that remains always true, neither one of these states, or any in between, is constant. Ever. That was her point. The older I get, the more I live, the more I see the truth in Prof S-'s little gem. And through my realization and acceptance that life is, in fact, laundry, I have learned how to not stress as much, to not beat myself up as much when my hamper is overflowing and there are the literal and proverbial dirty clothes all over the place.
And with that, and I am not kidding, I am going to go do some laundry. The literal kind...and maybe even a little of the metaphorical kind. We'll see.