The laundromat

March 1, 2012

At this very moment I’m sitting in a laundromat. I decided to bring my computer along to write as I work on my laundry (my dryer died last week, along with the water heater). It’s funny to be sitting here, the same place nearly 20 years ago I met my first friends in this town.

I “grew up” on the east side of St. Paul. When I was about 10 my parents decided they had enough of the city (it was just starting to get bad at that point, if you’re familiar with the area at all) and they moved us about 45 minutes north to a tiny town (and by tiny I mean less than 500 people).

At the time, this town had one main road, a bar, one gas station, a laundromat/post office, a volunteer fire department (which is really just a big pole barn) and city hall. City hall used to be no bigger than the laundromat/Post Office.

I hated living here. I was used to being able to hop on my bike, take a lap around the block and have enough kids to play kickball. Not anymore. My school friends lived anywhere from a mile away to 20 miles away. I couldn’t just hop on my bike and find something to do anymore.

That was until I met the kids in town.

We lived on the other end of town which was about four city blocks from the “center” near the post office/laundromat. One day my mom said, “Just go outside and play.” So I did. I hopped on my bike and headed toward where I thought kids would be. And I found them. Across the street from the post office. I met my first friend and it snowballed into a gang of sorts.

There were about 10 of us, boys and girls, who regularly hung out. We’d hop on our bikes and ride down the road and we played with whoever was outside at the time.

We would go to the park, which was really a swing set in a sand pit. It was there I stabbed with a piece of glass.

It was a regular summer day and we were at the park. I don’t really recall what happened before the stabbing, but I remember being chased by a boy who had a piece of glass in his hand, I also remember laughing, which is quite odd. Anyway, he caught up to me and got me right in the elbow. It was pretty deep and I still have a scar about a ¼ inch by ¼ inch (I probably needed a stitch or two). It bled like a son of a gun and I remember my mom saying something like, “See what happens when you play with boys… now lets see if we can get the blood out of your clothes.” I’m pretty sure she slapped a band-aid on it and sent me back outside.

We also used to play back in the woods on my great-aunt’s property. We’d just go out and explore. In order to get to the fun stuff, part of an abandoned railroad, we had to climb over shin-high barbed wire. We had gone over it so many times that we eventually started jumping over it. No one had ever gotten hurt – until I jumped over it one day.

I was running with everyone else and went to jump over the wire and I failed. I had a two inch gash across my right shin. It was barely bleeding and I wasn’t going to go home. So I just kept going.

Unfortunately, on the way back, the barbed wire caught my left leg, only this time, I had a two inch gash going down my left shin.

I remember walking in the door and my mom laughing at me. Not only did I do something dumb and get cut by barbed wire, but I did it twice. More band-aids.

One day we found an old milk truck out in the woods. It looked like it had been sitting there for over a hundred years (I know, that’s not possible). We somehow transformed it into our little fort in the woods. We’d just go out there and use it as a base. We’d climb trees and try to find other old crap that had been abandoned in the woods.

We only went to the laundromat a few times. When we went we usually messed around with the laundry baskets on wheels or used the change machine to get quarters to buy soda from the machine (it was only 25 cents at the time). One day some trouble-maker kid, not a friend of ours, flooded the laundromat and since it shares a wall with the post office it ended up ruining a bunch of mail. Apparently that’s federal crime. We avoided the laundromat after that because we didn’t want to get into trouble.

We stopped hanging out once girls and boys couldn’t hang out together anymore (I’m guessing about 13-ish).

The summer after high school I moved away. I lived in the suburbs (north and south) and eventually moved back here a few years ago. It’s nice and quiet (except for Meth Neighbor, but that’s a topic for another post) and I don’t mind being so far away from civilization. I occasionally run into the parents of my old friends and I still get recognized when I pay my water bill. Aside from that not much has changed in this town except we now have two bars and two gas station/liquor stores (yes, and they’re right across the street from each other). City hall moved to a brand new building and there’s some sort of utility/truck building but I don’t know what it is. There’s also a newer housing development with roads that make St. Paul streets seem logical.

The laundromat/post office are still exactly the same as they were 20 years ago.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: