The Missing Black Cotton Coasters

APRIL 12, 2017

This morning—in preparation for the weekend, when Bea will be visiting me in Cambridge—I decided to go to the local laundromat, right in front of Bukowski's Tavern, to wash all of my dirty clothes: the Inman Square Laundromat. I don't do laundry too often and I guess I wanted to make this one time worth it, so I went ahead and also added my bed sheets and towels to the equation, together with two little black cotton coasters from MUJI that Bea gave me two months ago for my Birthday.

As if the weather had jumped straight from winter to summer, Cambridge was at twenty-eight Celsius degrees—82.4 Fahrenheit—when I left my house, all packed with clothes. It was the first time for a while that I could walk around Cambridge with a simple tee shirt. (The plastic coverings all around my windows made my room perform more like a greenhouse than a bedroom. Special thanks go to my lovely Real Estate, who offered to install plastic film for the winter instead of fixing the windows.) After doing two different loads of laundry and setting up twenty-five minutes of drying, I brought my clothes from the laundromat back to my house, both inside a white IKEA container and inside my Element Mohave backpack. I folded all of my clothes, made my bed, and continued my day. Then I had lunch, I FaceTimed, procrastinated for a bit with my laptop, and biked to yoga.

I came back home from yoga at around 8 pm and, before going to bed, I decided to prepare a sandwich and a hot beverage. It was right when I brought my hot drink to my bedroom that I felt something was missing. My two black coasters from MUJI were not were they should be, and I didn't have any recollection of bringing them back home after doing laundry. They might be inside one of the bed sheets or inside one of my clothes—I thought. I went ahead and unfolded, searched, and folded back every single tee shirt and sweatshirt I own—with no luck. I thought about the possibility of undoing and doing my bed again, but this seemed like a complete nightmare, so I wore my black Nike FREE Run and walked to the laundromat wearing my pajamas. (It's not like anybody cares too much about what you wear around here in Cambridge.) The light of the laundromat was on and everything was working as usual. Only a sympathetic man with South Asian aspect was sitting at the entrance, quietly reading a magazine.

People tend to leave forgotten stuff on the middle metal table in the laundromat, but today the only thing there was an orphan black sock which looked completely new. I used two different machines that morning to do laundry, and a single one to dry everything together. I went ahead and—again without luck—looked all around the first washing machine. Then I gave the second machine a try, which was completely wet. (I was feeling observed and looked back at the guy at the entrance, but he was immersed in his magazine and didn't seem to care a lot about what I was doing.) I decided to put my hands in every single whole inside the machine. It was inside the outer plastic ring that I found them: two small rolled pieces of fabric, my little coasters, completely wet and full of detergent. My dummy face was that of someone extremely happy. No one knew I had lost my coasters and no one knew I found them in the washing machine, but I was so happy. I looked at the guy, and even though he didn't really know what was going on, I said—pretty weird hey?—while showing him the two wet black pieces I had on my hands. I left the laundromat with a huge smile on my face, laughing inside on my own as, after all, I had a small success in my day, I had recovered my lost coasters.

I've washed them to take out the detergent and have them drying on a hanger in my bedroom. Loosing them made me feel how much I actually like them, and established some sort of connection between the coasters and myself through this weird anecdote with a happy ending.