This is odd.

I’m not a particularly introspective person. Navel gazing has never struck me as useful, in general, and for much of my adult life I was simply too busy, too harassed, to want to do anything with often rare free time but blow it on distractions or sleep. If I was ever presented with scenes or situations that might have triggered emotional reactions arising from things that happened in my childhood, most of which I don’t really remember, I would have rushed right past them or reflexively blanked them out. I certainly wouldn’t have dwelt on them.

I’ve lived alone in the desert for sixteen years now, at a much slower pace, and the best thing about it is that nobody else sets the agenda and nobody else enforces it. There is no carrot and no stick, and when bad things happen I am free to deal with them in whatever way seems right. Sometimes I even actually stop and smell the roses. Or the corpse flowers, whatever. What I mean: Sometimes I see something that makes me feel insecure and tense for no apparent reason. And sometimes I see something that makes me feel calm and happy. And when that happens, I’m free to stop and wonder why that might be, if I want to.

Like this…

Regular readers might wonder why Joel keeps talking about his stupid clothesline. And I have wondered the same thing. But ever since I put it up in early September I’ve enjoyed using – or just standing and watching – this thing. It makes no sense at all – I hung out wet clothes for years on clotheslines hung between junipers, and it was just laundry. But this feels different. When I was a kid, every back yard of every house had a couple of cruciform clothesline poles, which usually had laundry flapping between them, and apparently nothing bad ever happened to me concerning them when I was young. Or maybe good things happened. Maybe dangerous adults found them calming as well. I really don’t know. Frankly it feels kind of odd to even bother wondering about it.

Maybe this is perfectly normal. I really wouldn’t know.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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11 Responses to This is odd.

  1. Robert says:

    I suggest a functioning clothesline implies: permanence; stability; a domestic routine possible only when things have settled into peaceful predictability; home.

  2. caren says:

    hmm, I would say ask your brother, he might remember something

  3. Malatrope says:

    Clothes flapping on that kind of line is symbolic of a peaceful, long-gone age in America. It makes sense, this thing you feel.

  4. Jim Price says:

    I suspect it’s the satisfaction you feel from getting all of the engineering spot on, and the angle of the dangle correct, for optimum drying efficiency. And the correct spatial orientation so that the angular momentum is greatest as the clothes flap in the breeze.

  5. bill says:

    When out on the porch at night I watch the skies. The moon and stars can be calming and I feel at peace. Sometimes winds move clouds in and out of the stars and I get unsettled spooky feelings. Night noises and sights are a black and white deja vu snapshot of something I can’t put in a remembered place. Your picture of the clothesline is relatable (Like Capote’s In Cold Blood). Hypnotic like staring at the campfire I guess.

  6. Jim_R says:

    Perhaps a clothesline strung between two trees evokes a feeling of impermanence, as if you were just there temporarily. The standard clothesline suggests permanence, saying “This is home.”

  7. Terrapod says:

    Like yourself, clothes were always dried on the line in the sun where I grew up. No one could afford a dryer and we were fortunate to have an actual washing machine, where others still used tub and washboard. In my case seeing a line with clothes flapping in the breeze pretty much evokes home and the era when I had nary a worry to deal with. That is what is calming, the lack of adult responsibility.

  8. Tree Mike says:

    Peace, like water, is where you find it.

  9. feralfae says:

    Joel, thank you for triggering a warm memory! I must have been three, maybe 4, and outside watching the linens swaying in the warm breeze. (Sun drying is the best!) Dad picked me up and explained the wind to me, and how it carried away the water molecules and left the fluffy cotton and linen behind. And after that, to this day, when I hang out the linens, I remember — I am watching the wind working! Thank you for this warm reminder as I watch the snow still falling up here on the Divide. And the linens tumble in the dryer. Your clothesline is beautiful, and you created it. Bravo! for creating a place of peace to yourself. And thank you for sharing it with us.

  10. jrg says:

    I remember as a kid, every time I walked by the clothesline, extending my hand to lightly touch the fabric. Grandma, Mom or one of my Aunts cautioning me not to pull it off the line. Sometimes, we kids would play among the lines of clothing and sheets.

    Maybe its in the DNA chain.

  11. Steve D says:

    Maybe you are just easily entertained these days?

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