There were two piles in the middle of the floor, one dirty that needed to be washed, and one clean that needed to be folded and put away. I’m always behind on the laundry, this week no exception.
Early on Saturday, with coffee in hand, I began to sort through the piles, four clean loads lying on top of each other in one basket, and four days of dirty in the other.
I pulled out the shirt Miss F. wore when we had harsh words before school Tuesday morning, where I, in a terrible mood, said regrettable things, things that prompted me to send a text message to the aid in her class and ask her to apologize for me. I couldn’t bear those words being the last she heard from me all day.
I pulled out Miss F.’s softball uniform and B.’s soccer jersey, worn for two games played in two different towns at the same time, my not being able to see more than 10 minutes of either one.
I pulled out the shirt I wore my first day back at work, after an unexpected and chaotic week away, my boss’ petulance exacerbating the crying jags I indulged in while hiding in my office.
I pulled out the dress I wore to my father’s funeral.
The dress I tugged at while I overhead two women say, “Does anyone know if his daughters even showed up?”
The dress I smoothed over my hips while a well-meaning guest, a person I had never met, took me aside to acknowledge that he knew this death was complicated for me and wished me peace.
The capris I wore running the morning of the funeral, where I may have run my fastest five miles ever, while letting the anger and grief and sadness and guilt pour out of me.
Past, present and future mixed up and blended, baseball jerseys atop a dress worn to a funeral of a grandfather my children never knew. And while I pulled clothing out of that basket and folded it in piles, I sat there wishing I could sort out my feelings as easily as we sort out the lights from the darks and the casuals from the delicates.
I’m not unique. Every family has their laundry.
Part of my mission is to take the facts that belong to the story of me and my father, and learn to look at them as facts, not as burdens or hurts, or details that I allow to define me.
We don’t have to attach emotional energy to facts. We can learn to become observers of the facts, even the facts that seem troublesome. Even the facts that we have spent our entire lives personalizing. Yoga teaches us that. And while that’s easier in theory than in practice, we have the option to acknowledge our stories, validate our stories, and respect our stories yet be liberated from our stories at the same time.
We can own our stories without them owning us, dirty laundry and all.