Then there's laundry. I love laundry.
Send me bright whites. Send me darks. Send me towels and bulky bedding and delicates. Send me grass stains, pit stains, greasy collars, and musky socks. No underwire bra or woolen sweater will be turned away. Yea though my basket be heaped with fitted sheets and boys' underwear, I am unafraid. Nay! I rejoice.
For a few years in the late 90's, I worked for the Gap. It was the height of the khakis craze. Everyone was jumping and jiving and lining up to buy our pleated-front pants, the perfect wardrobe piece for swing dancing or easing into middle management.
It was during those heady retail years that I perfected my folding techniques. My brain buzzed with college class schedules, upcoming tests, research papers, and shopping mall Cinnabon buns. Folding button-downs was my Zen meditation: Flatten the shirt, button side down. Fold each arm across the back. Fold the left, then the right side inward, toward the middle, at half the width of the space between the buttons and the side seam. Fold the semicircular bottom of the shirt upward, creating a straight line. Take the bottom of the shirt and fold upward again, stopping at the shoulders, creating a rectangle. Turn the shirt over, tidying the collar if necessary. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat for 8 hours per day, several days per week, for 4 years.
Christmas, Easter, back-to-school season -- whatever devastation hit our store, I found myself moving calmly among the racks and tables, ministering to the toppled piles, righting what was wrong. Thoughts of tests or thesis papers still dogged me, but when I placed the last delicately folded cardigan atop its stack, both serenity and power coursed through me. "Behold!" I wanted to shout to the customers, "From the rubble, a perfect tower of poly-blend knits has risen."
Though nearly 20 years have passed since I last sold a pair of button-fly jeans or a waffle-knit tee, my love for the tidying of clothes has only deepened. What I wouldn't give go back in time, to whisper into my own ear as I sat slumped in the university library, "One day, you will have your very own washing machine in your very own laundry room. Being 40 ain't so bad, kid." My LG WaveForce high-efficiency, top-loading, mega-capacity, agitator-less washing machine is, unquestionably, my personal miracle maker. A stinking, mud- (mud? yes, please be mud) mud-splattered school uniform goes into the LG, and 45 minutes later, its sins have literally been washed away. Deadlines may be piling up at work. My son may hate his dinner for the seventh night in a row. My car tire may have a slow leak. But, behold! We are wearing clean underpants and our shirts are folded into virtuous rectangles.
In the Catholic faith, there is a patron saint for every craft, career, or affliction. Saint Hunna is the patron saint of laundresses, a woman born of wealth who devoted her life to the poor, particularly known for washing their soiled clothes and bathing their bodies. She is often called the "Holy" Washerwoman." Though, to me, the word "Holy" always seemed a bit redundant.