We washed our clothes by hand in Ukraine, like everyone else I knew. It was rare that Luba used her washing machine. Too costly, unnecessary. We used large buckets and tubs in the bathtub, sudsing and rinsing several times, reusing the water as much as possible, bending over the tub, scrubbing away. We hung them on the clothes line outside, a fixture in every Starobelsk yard. The clothes always went out to dry, year-round, in all seasons, even in snow and rain. In winter the clothes froze on the line, like cardboard mannequins. We unstuck them and carried them inside to dry, looking as if we might be setting up a display in the storefront window of a women's clothing shop.
I got used to it. Both Luba and Natalia, my next host mom, loved smelling their laundry as they carefully folded it. “Ah, nice and fresh!” It was a ritual.
I thought about it today because I went to the laundromat, Super Suds, for the first time, to wash my clothes, three large loads, at $3 a piece. I’m thinking about getting a (used) washer and dryer for the basement of my apartment house, but I keep putting it off. After two hours at the laundromat, I’m thinking about it again. The appliances would have to go in the back of a dark, dank, damp cellar. Very unappealing, even a bit scary.
So I am still thinking about it. And remembering that it wasn’t so bad to do it all by hand.
On the other hand, I’m back in America now, where time and convenience are top priorities. The pace of life is different. We have many choices, so many options. In this transition zone, I’m finding the best thing to do is nothing. Just wait before making a decision. So I'll continue to ponder the need for modern conveniences, until the next time I HAVE to go to Super Suds.