jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


The place I drop off my laundry has been closed and locked tight. I first noticed this over the weekend when I went to pick up my laundry and found, instead of its usual 24-hour bustle, only a blank rolled-down gate. With no note, no signs of activity, I assumed the worst: one of the cranky crusty ladies had died.

Today, hopeful and desperate for clean clothes, I go by again, and to my great relief, they are open. They are renovating and with the power turned off, the ladies have congregated on the sidewalk. It is all rather festive, chairs out front facing the busy street, grandchildren darting about, no work to be done, just customers like me, “picking up” and they softly hassle and hector me the way they do.

The head of the hen squad leads me inside to find my laundry bag and searching around the darkened interior we chat about the events of the past few days. She is happy to have had a few days off, as her daughter was graduating.

“She been teaching for ten year. Now they want her to be Principal,” she says and she sounds like a version of home to me, North Carolina rural poor.

“You must be so proud!” I say with my mouth full of good teeth, my clean diction.

“This the big one. The Master degree. She call me and told me, ‘Mommy, I got it!’”

“Did you cry?” and I put my finger to the corner of my eye, trace the trail of an invisible tear down my face.

A moment like a held breath, as we look at each other, and both our eyes start to well up. The moment exhales, we gain our composure, we continue on.


Post a Comment

<< Home