On laundromats, longing and lost opportunities

My fears were unfounded. I knew it the moment we drove into the campsite, which was nothing like the campsite I had imagined.

In my imagination I had seen cars, tents and caravans dotted cheek by jowl within a large hollowed area near a main road somewhere. But the Blanket Bay campsite on the southernmost point of the Great Ocean Road region in Cape Otway is designed to keep people far enough apart with large swathes of eucalypts and cascading casuarinas to give the illusion of being secluded in the bush.

Our particular spot overlooked the sea, which you reached via a series of stone steps carved into the sandy slope. The waves thundered at night, as if we were in a gale and louder than I remember from other trips to the beach.

But the weather held out for us during our two day stay and although it was cold, the sun shone for much of our first full day and made walking along the beach and other walks through the bush almost overheated. Especially with thermals underneath.


The washing machine hose had snapped from its body the day before we went camping and flooded the laundry. Fortunately my daughter heard the unaccountable rush of water and I got to the taps before it had lapped into the kitchen and onto the parquetry.

As a consequence we’ve been without a washing machine for over a week now and the dirty clothes are piling up.

I’ve spent some time trying to locate a person who can locate the missing hose for a Kleenmaid washing machine, given Kleenmaid have gone out of business, and then fit it. He’s coming early next week, and in the meantime I will make at least one trip to the Laundromat.

I have not set foot inside a Laundromat since I was a young woman in the days when every weekend I took my pile of clothes in a basket or a bag along with my stash of coins and container of soap powder for a weekly wash.

Sometimes it was just a matter of loading up one of the machines with the dirty clothes then taking off to the shops to do whatever task I allocated myself in the thirty minutes or so it took to complete the load.

Other times I sat and waited.

It was on one such visit to the Laundromat on Kooyong Road in Caulfield near where I shared an upstairs apartment with my younger sister, during what I think of these days as my promiscuous year, where I encountered some of my deepest longings.

The Laundromat was, as you can imagine, a row of machines on one side, fitted into the wall front loaders and on the other wall even larger driers.

On this day a young man came in to do his washing. He sat with a book in his hands  and as he shuffled the pages I wondered whether he might be the one.

But we did not lock eyes when he caught me looking in his direction and I soon abandoned all hope of connecting with him.

There was someone out there I knew who would be a kindred spirit.  Someone who would think like me. Someone right for me. If only we could connect.

It was an odd thought and yet it formed the basis of my optimistic stance on most things these days. Whenever things feel bad I tell myself something good will happen.

I tell myself things will not always be this bad, but the series of events in recent weeks including the dishwasher and another failed opportunity to get my manuscript into publication  leaves me longing all over again.

Better to long for things I say, than to sulk.

The impulse to sulk is to slip into a state of mind that says I’ll never get this book into print.

And I found the man whom I eventually married all those years ago and although the fantasy of stars in my eyes and a sensation of love at first sight never happened, enough good rolled in thereafter to qualify as a good enough life.


At the end of our camping trip as we pulled out onto the main road I turned back to watch the retreating trees under which we had sheltered for two nights and thought to myself I can do this again and next time I will not be so fearful.