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I Found Love in a Laundormat

Love shows up when you least expect it

By Veronica ThompsonPublished 4 years ago 16 min read

From the moment she opened her eyes, she knew it would be one of those days. One of those days that had become more frequent than in days past. One of those days where her only desired destination was her bed. One of those days when she would have to put on the biggest smile to mask the drainage that was oozing from the wounds of her soul. She couldn’t pinpoint a specific reason as to why she felt like shit this morning, she just knew that she did. As she rolled over convincing herself of reasons as to why she should call out of work, she quickly remembered the primary reason as to why calling out of work wasn’t an option. The idea of homelessness always scared her and outweighed any other reason that she could think of to stay home. If she didn’t work, she wouldn’t have money, if she didn’t have money she couldn’t pay her bills, so as tempting as the thought of pulling the cover over her head and sulking for the entire day was, the thought of living on the streets was a good deterrent.

As per usual, she showered, got dressed, commuted to work and entered the office with her bright and warm smile as if she hadn’t spent 30 minutes showering in her own tears just an hour ago. Everyone who had the opportunity to meet with her that day left with a bright smile raving about how kind, knowledgeable and respectful she was. The entire day, the mood had not shifted and all she could do was watch the clock. Finally, Four O’clock had come. She had clocked out silently yet eagerly. Because it was Friday, her co-workers inquired about her plans for the evening (weekend), she responded by telling them that it would be a quiet weekend. Quiet meaning that she would rush home, sit on her couch in silence for two or three hours and let the tears flow before showering and taking her weeping soul to bed.

When she walked through the door of her apartment, she felt a sense of relief as she removed the mask of her smile along with her clothing, put on her house clothes and crawled into her safe haven (her bed). The tears began to flow silently as she held onto her stuffed animal and played the same songs in the same order that she listened to everyday. Through the sounds of the tears hitting her pillow and the music she finally heard the notifications on her phone. Wiping her eyes, she reached for the phone and noticed twelve missed calls, one from her mother, one from her nephew, ten from the guy that she had recently started seeing. She called her mother, ensuring that the tears could not be detected in her voice(as if her mother would notice anyway), she then followed up and called her nephew, once again ensuring that the tears could not be detected in her voice. She contemplated calling the guy that she recently started seeing but decided not to. They had only been seeing one another for two months and she did not have the emotional strength to laugh, joke and pretend that everything was fine. However, this new guy was persistent. He began to send text messages reading “Where are you?” “I was hoping to see you this evening” “I would like to take you to dinner tonight”. Though she read every text, she responded to none as she had no desire to eat, talk or get dressed again. As the tears continued to flow, she thought about how her and this new guy had met.

One day while doing her laundry, a tall husky handsome man walked into the laundromat. She was looking a mess as per usual when taking care of her domestic responsibilities. As she was placing her clothes in the dryer, he walked up to her from behind and asked was she using the empty washing machine (thinking about it she realized it was a stupid question because she was placing her clothes in the dryer). Her being an awkward introvert, barely looked him in the eye, smiled and said “No” in that quiet voice that sounds really misplaced coming from a woman her size. He responded “Ok”, trying to catch her eye, but her weird ass did not catch on. While her clothes dried, she decided to walk to the supermarket to pick up some groceries. After grocery shopping, taking her groceries to her apartment and walking back to the laundromat, she was stopped by her neighbor, giving her the news that the cute husky guy was looking for you. Her response was “What the fuck was he looking for me for?”, her neighbor responded, “He got a crush on you”. She remembered turning her face up because she knew that she went out of her way to look extra unappealing when going to the laundromat so any man who found her remotely attractive in that state had problems of his own that she wanted no parts of. Walking into the laundromat, she prayed that her clothes were dry as to not have to encounter him. When she walked to the dryer, thankfully her clothes were dry, however she noticed him sitting in the seating area staring at her as she awkwardly threw her clean clothes into the laundry bag without even folding them. Every time she looked up, there were his eyes staring and smiling at her (he did have a gorgeous smile). She felt a sense of relief once her clothes were packed into the laundry bag and now into her shopping cart. As headed toward the door, he walked to the door to open it for her. She finally gave him eye contact and smiled as she said, “Thank you”. He responded “You’re welcome, I’m Eric, nice to meet you” as he extended his hand to shake hers. She smiled and accepted his hand and said “Likewise, have a great day”. She then walked away flashing that beautiful smile that could light up a room, if only she knew how beautiful her smile was.

That entire day she thought about the handsome guy with the gorgeous smile. Her thoughts of him quickly shifted as she began to fold her clothes and noticed that her favorite pair of work pants and shirt were missing. Baffled, she went back to the laundromat the next day, to see if she had left them there, the attendant let her look through the lost and found, but they weren’t there. She thought that her favorite pair of pants and shirt had gone on to that mystery after life of lost clothes. Though she missed her favorite pair of pants, she would get over it. After coming to terms with the fact that her favorite pair of pants were gone, she realized that she had to strategically plan her laundry days so that she would never run into Eric again. For the next two years she did any and everything to avoid doing her laundry on a Saturday, as she feared running into him (for what reason I have no idea). However, for two whole years her plan worked, and she never set foot into that laundromat again on a Saturday in turn never seeing Eric within those two years. However, no one has ever strategically outsmarted fate, and she would not be the first.

One cold Saturday morning she had a taste for a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee, light and sweet is how she liked it. As she walked to Dunkin Donuts to purchase her rare and coveted treat, she noticed a tall, husky man trying to catch her eye, however she paid it no attention as she walked into the empty Dunkin Donuts and ordered her large cup of coffee light and sweet, she felt the presence of someone behind her. Reluctantly, she turned around and guess who was standing behind her. It was Eric in all his tall, caramel glory as she had remembered. She turned her head quickly back to the cashier. She tried to intentionally ignore him when his thunderous manly voice exclaimed “Wow, its been some time. Do you go to a different laundromat?” She turned around to look in his direction (God he was gorgeous) she squinted her eyes as if she were confused, knowing damn well she knew who he was. “I’m sorry, please forgive me, but do I know you?” He smiled “Yes and no. I met you briefly a few years back at the laundromat around the corner. I haven’t seen you there for quite some time. Do you still go to that laundromat?” She smiled “yes, you look familiar. I do go, but I usually go after work because Saturdays are too crowded”. He nodded and smiled, “I agree, but Saturdays are the only time that I have available to do my laundry”. He paused and there was a slight uncomfortable silence, her mind was racing trying to figure out something clever to say as she was holding her large cup of coffee in her hand (he must think I’m a greedy fat bitch ordering such a large cup of coffee). As she was about to open her mouth to respond, he asked her to stay where she was as he had something that belonged to her. Puzzled, she nodded “yes” as he walked out of the Dunkin Donuts and headed to a Black Chevy Suburban. Confused, she avoided eye contact with the cashier, and she waited for what felt like an hour (it was three minutes). Just when she was about to walk out of the store, he walked in with a plastic bag and handed it to her. Confused, she accepted the bag opened it to find her favorite pair of pants and shirt clean and folded. In disbelief, she stared at her favorite pair of pants and shirt as if he had handed her million dollars. After the initial shock, she instinctively hugged him, quickly pulling back them apologizing. He laughed “It’s ok”. So excited, to have her favorite pair of pants and shirt back she didn’t even bother to ask how he got them and why was he riding around with them in his truck for two years. “I would offer to buy you a cup of coffee, but I see you already have some. Can I buy you a bagel or something to eat?” he asked. She smiled, “Thank you, but I’m fine. I should be buying you something for returning my items to me, it is greatly appreciated”. “You’re welcome. I’m just glad I had the chance to run into you again” he replied. Thank you again. Have a great day, she said as she headed toward the door. Before she reached the door, he ran to hold it for her. She looked up at him and smiled as they both walked out of Dunkin Donuts. As she began to walk to her building, he stopped her “I don’t mean to be forward, but would it be possible to talk to you? Spend some time with you? Get to know you? I noticed you don’t have a ring on your finger does that mean you are single?” “I am” she quickly responded (soon beating herself up for sounding so desperate). He wrote down his number on a piece of paper as she did the same and they exchanged numbers at the same time. He walked to his truck and she walked to her building calm on the outside but so excited on the inside.

Surprisingly, he didn’t play the three -day game that most men do when they wait three days to call, he called the same day and the chemistry was there and strong. They stayed on the phone for hours talking about life, their hopes, their fears and anything that you can think of. This was both great and scary for her because it isn’t easy for her to make connections with people and she avoids intimacy as she does not like to get hurt. For the past three years, she hadn’t been with a man in an intimate way, so this was scary for her. She wanted to let her guard down with him, but she had to mentally prepare herself for the day that he would leave her (as everyone always did). For the first two months, they went on dates, fell a sleep on the telephone, he texted her every morning and every night. On the surface it seemed as if everything was going well, and if you looked at it on a superficial level, you would have believed that she had let him in, however she was holding back so much of herself as she knew it was just a matter of time before the calls would stop coming, the texts would not be replied to and he would disappear as so many others had. As the tears rolled down her face thinking about how stupid she was for letting a man back into her life because she knew that he was eventually going to see her for the worthless nothing that everyone else had. Is that why she was crying? Was that the reason she felt like shit all day? Was she anticipating what was going to happen in this new and blooming connection? Did her mind take her heart to an anticipated future where she is crying on her bathroom floor on the day that Eric decides to ghost her without a cause? I’m sure that may have played a role in her emotional drain that day but knowing her it wasn’t the primary reason as this has been a common occurrence with her.

She thought about texting him back and telling him that she wasn’t up to talking or going out, but she was afraid of his response. What if he was cruel because she didn’t want to speak or to see him? Worse, what if he didn’t detect the sadness in her tone (how she so desperately needed for someone to detect the sadness in her eyes and her voice) and nonchalantly brushed off her desire to not want to talk or spend time with him. Whatever the outcome, she would much rather imagine it than live it. However, Eric was persistent. His texts and phone calls became more frequent and more intense from concerns about her safety to concerns that she may be with another man. As she read the text messages, she had a “great” idea or at least as it stood in her mind. If Eric thought that she was with another man, he would have a reason to leave her. Even though she liked Eric and wanted to get to know him, she knew her history with men. She gives her all, opens- up, then they leave without a reason leaving her to think the worst things about herself. Causing her to spiral into a deeper functional depression. In an effort to end this cycle, she decided that she would let Eric believe that she was with another man, this way if he decides that he no longer wants to deal with her anymore there would be a reason, she wouldn’t be left picking herself a part trying to find the reason why yet another man didn’t find her lovable even though when she loves, she gives up the deepest part of her heart.

With her plan in mind. She finally responded to Eric’s text.

Her: Hi Eric, this isn’t a good time

Eric: Are you alright? I’ve been trying to reach you all day. I wanted to spend some time with you. Maybe go to the movies or something.

Her- Oh… you should have told me that earlier in the week. I made plans.

Eric: OK. plans? I thought you said you would be free this weekend when we spoke last night

Her: Well, things changed. I got an invitation to go out and I decided to take it

Eric: Ok. Have a good time. Call me when you get back. Maybe we can go for a drive or something if it isn’t too late.

Her: I won’t be back tonight. I’m staying the night out. I guess. I’ll hit you up when I can. TTYL

She held her phone waiting for Eric’s response, but there was none. A sense of relief and sadness had overtaken her. She was sad because she really liked Eric, but she felt relief because she would finally have a man leave her for a real reason and she wouldn’t have to beat herself up trying to figure out what she had done wrong. She blocked his number, blocked him on social media, deleted any trace of their two -month relationship. Though she felt like shit, she started to get hungry and decided to order some food. The tears started to flow from her eyes when the bell rang. The excitement of her food arriving took a little of the sting away. She ran to ring the delivery person in wearing a long t shirt, a hair bonnet and socks. The tears were still visible, but she didn’t care, that delivery person didn’t know her.

She didn’t bother to wipe the tears away as she opened the door to who she thought was the delivery man with her dinner. To her surprise, it wasn’t the delivery man, it was Eric standing there in all his tall caramel goodness staring into her eyes. Before she could close the door, he took his thumb and wiped away the tear that was dripping down her left cheek. She was speechless and for the first time in her life, someone saw the sadness in her eyes. He held her in his arms as they stood there silently. She doesn’t know if it was the pressure from his body against hers, the feeling of the touch that she needed so much or just the fact that he was there, but the flood gates of tears opened up in her eyes as they stood holding one another with the front door open. The knock at the door startled her, as the delivery man with her dinner awkwardly stood behind them not knowing what to do. With one hand Eric went into his pocket, pulled out his wallet, paid the delivery man, took the food, placed it on the table, closed the front while holding her with his other arm. The y didn’t talk, they just walked over to her sofa where they sat, and she cried in his chest. His arms felt so comforting. For the first time in her life she felt safe, protected, loved and cared for. Though she felt better than she had ever felt in her life, she was terrified because she had finally really allowed someone in to see her soul, to experience her at her most vulnerable. She thought that she had messed up because the day when he does leave without an explanation it would be devastating.

For most of the night they sat on her couch with him holding her in silence. Breaking the silence, she looked up at him and whispered, “Thank you”. Confused, he responded “Why are you thanking me? I’m here for you, always”. She snuggled deeper into his chest. “Eric, can I ask you a question?” “Sure”, he responded. Looking into his eyes, she asked “How did you get my pants and shirt?” He chuckled “Oh man, I was waiting for you to ask me that?” Taking a deep breath, he continued, “The moment that I saw you in the laundromat that day, I wanted to get to know you. There was something quiet and intriguing about you”. She remembered how unappealing she had looked that day, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. She thought of something clever to say, but she chose to just listen. Eric continued as he held her tighter in his arm. “I didn’t know what to say to you. When I got the courage to say something to you, I had noticed you were gone, so I asked the lady that you were talking to where you were?”. He continued “So me, thinking that I had a masterplan decided to take items out of your dryer and place them in mine”. With a confused look on her face she asked “why?” He rubbed his hand through her hair. “I needed a reason to talk to you the next time that I saw you in the laundromat. Every Saturday morning, I would carry your shirt and pants with me hoping to see you and tell you that I think I had something that belonged to you”. She was shocked, not simply because of the act, but by the fact that someone like him would go to such great lengths to meet her. “Every Saturday I would think that this was the day that I would see you, but the day never came. I did see the lady that you were talking to that day, I often asked her if she had seen you, she would always say no. (She lied because she saw her almost every day). He continued, after two years, I started to feel bad because not only had I not seen you again, but I stole your clothes”, they both chuckled. He continued “So the day that I saw you walking to Dunkin Donuts, I couldn’t believe it”. He continued pulling her closer. “I remembered your face and those beautiful eyes. I had to follow you.”

With a confused look on her face, she asked “So you mean to tell me, that you’ve been driving around with my pants and shirt in your truck for two years?” There was a short uncomfortable silence before they both bust out laughing uncontrollably. Through her laughter she blurted out, “That is some weird shit. Driving around with some strange woman’s big ass pants and shirt in your truck”. They continued to laugh and talk the entire night into the morning. She woke up with her head in his chest and her arm wrapped around his neck. This was the night that she and Eric fell in love.

From that day on they were inseparable. Yeah, they had their ups and downs, but the ups always outweighed the downs. She still sometimes woke up in those funky moods, but Eric was now by her side to help her get through it. The woman who believed that love would never find her, found her happily ever after in a laundromat. It has been years since she moved out of the neighborhood with Eric, however every year on January 22 they travel with their three children from their home in Long Island to the little laundromat in The Bronx where they first met in a very unconventional way. They wash their clothes then they walk to the little Dunkin Donuts where Eric finally gave her back her clothes and they all five sit, the kids have hot chocolate, Eric has a hot cup of tea and she has her coveted large cup of coffee light and sweet.

love

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    VTWritten by Veronica Thompson

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