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  • When Carolyn and I moved to Moscow, we did not expect having our own washing machine in our apartment, and we knew there were no Laundromats in the entire city. We were resolved to wash our clothes in the sink. So it was much to our surprise and delight when we saw that indeed we did have a washing machine in our apartment. Well, kind of. It was this plastic contraption that you put in the tub, heavy and square and it had to set on these plastic arms that were braced onto the side of the tub. You put the clothes and soap in, filled it up with water from the shower, and turned it on. It would shake and make all sorts of racket, and nine times out of ten it would fall off its arms and empty out into the tub, but it was still better than doing the wash by hand. When finished, the water would be dumped out manually and the process began again. You did this about four times with each load of clothes, depending on how clean and rinsed you wanted things. After the rinsing, I’d find my clothes cleaner, but they would inevitably be covered in lint. And I mean covered, they looked worse than when they were put in. So that led to the worst part of the whole process, you’d have to take each article and shower spray all the lint off (much too think for a brush), and then ring all the excess water out. After a couple of shirts or socks, my hands would be so raw and painful that it would hurt to even pick up a book afterwards.

    Even people that do have modern washing machines don’t have dryers. Not one person I visited that owned a washing machine also had a dryer, everybody dry hangs. And that works fine, except when it hits –30 outside, and we hung our clothes from the curtains in the kitchen. But it was only when I hung up my clothes that I would see how many of my shirts had been torn to shreds by the machine. If I were lucky, only one shirt would have met its demise, but that was being lucky. That crazy plastic machine was slowly eating my clothes.

    After six months living in Moscow a friend of ours, after hearing us bitch, told us that she had found a Laundromat off the Profsoyuznaya metro station. We were ecstatic, even though it was about an hour metro ride from where we lived. We started lugging our laundry to the opposite side of the city of 13 million or so, and it was well worth it. To actually sit in a Laundromat and read while our clothes were washed and dried! Feeling the softness of my socks as I folded them. Not having my t-shirts come out with holes and loose threads. Not having to ring out my underwear by hand. Life was good.
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