Tales from the Terrace: The Clothesline (or Airing the Laundry: Part 2)

We didn’t know if we’d be required to remove our newly-purchased porch furniture from our building’s communal terrace, but that didn’t stop Michael from moving forward with his next plan for the terrace: a laundry line.

After the near-debacle of drying our clothes in the cement air vent in Oviedo, we’d become more proficient at the use of outdoor laundry lines hanging from the windows and balconies of our various residences in Spain. We hadn’t lost a sock or pair of underwear yet. . .

But now that we had signed a one-year lease on a place, Michael was determined to bring Spain—or at least our apartment in Spain—up to modern standards.

Our washer, we were told, was actually a combination washer/dryer. But whomever decided that wet clothes could be dried in the same machine that just washed them didn’t understand the difference between steaming and drying.

Or so we were told by anyone who’d tried to use the drying feature on these machines.

Michael did his best to figure out where we could fit an actual dryer in our apartment.

“Nobody here has dryers,” I said.

“Then everybody here is crazy,” he told me.

“I kind of like it,” I said. “Hanging clothes is meditative.” Michael looked at me and I could see the question floating in his head. Who is this crazy woman I married?!

“You’re lying,” he told me. “Nobody in their right mind would choose that over a dryer.” I had told him before that this was the situation in France. And Germany. And Italy. He didn’t believe me.

Weeks earlier, I had told Michael how my grandmother had a long laundry line that connected her back porch to her garage. I’d told him how we had clotheslines growing up. “Did you live in the Middle Ages?” he asked.

My love of our sun-drenched Spanish terrace, however, got him thinking. And so he went to Amazon.

Days later, after coming home from a walk, Michael couldn’t wait to show me his latest project.

On the terrace, affixed to one wall, he pointed to a white box that I knew wasn’t there when we moved in. A hundred feet away, he pointed to four hooks affixed to another wall. They weren’t there before either.

“Look—I painted them the same color as the wall,” he exclaimed.

Years ago, thanks to the TV/bidet toilet seat incident, I’d learned that Michael and I had different views on how many semi-permanent changes could be made to a rental apartment.

“They’re attached to the wall? And you painted them?”

“Yeah—in case that lady who complained about the porch furniture ever actually comes up here, she won’t notice them.”

I still, though, had no idea what I was looking at. It was then that Michael pulled a ring from the white box. A string followed the ring, which Michael then affixed to a hook on the opposite wall. “Retractable clotheslines!” he said, smiling like a kid who just gave his mother her first hand-painted pet rock.

I smiled like a mother who’d just received her first hand-painted pet rock.

No. That’s what I was supposed to do. But I didn’t. I rolled my eyes.

It was only after doing our first load that I remembered Michael telling me he had never hung clothes on a laundry line. Now it was my turn to think, Who is this crazy man I married?!

I taught him how best to affix socks so they wouldn’t blow away. He insisted on two clothespins per sock and three per pair of underwear as he wasn’t so sure this whole clothing-blowing-in-the-wind thing was a good idea. (Some of you may recall Michael’s $13 per pair Calvin Klein underwear from my first post on this subject.)

Now ten months into our Spanish lives, the fact that I said hanging laundry is meditative means I do a lot of the hanging. Which is fine. Because I still enjoy it.

And Michael? He’s still trying to figure out where we can put a dryer. . .

One Comment Add yours

  1. Ann Linton says:

    Love this story. You are such a great story teller. I also feel like i regressed with buying water cause this is not drinkable, hanging clothes on the rack i open on my deck and bringing the trash out to the street every day. Too funny. I have just a washer, could buy a dryer to put on top but just renting. So i found a great small unoccupied laundromat around the corner. Once a week i bring my wet sheets and towels/ washcloths and tumble them for 15-30 min for 4 euro… and bring home soft fluffy items. I can’t use not air dried towels that feel like sandpaper!!!! Solved that one:) All good here, the Rain may have ruined many of my patio plants.. it was surreal. 6 inches valencia got… record breaking…

    Once the sun comes out tomorrow for a week maybe we can meet for a coffee or drink… ann. Here is my patio before and after

    Sent from my iPad- Ann Linton


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