My button down shirt stuck to my back and sweat trickled down my neck as I pressed against the hot tile of my friend’s terrace in Madrid. She was taking laundry off the clotheslines that crossed the narrow place. I stood, making myself take up the least amount of space; I watched as she folded a sheet as she took it off the line.
“’Why, hija?’ Because they are easier to iron if you fold them right from the start.
“Why iron? You’re just going to sleep on them.”
She stopped, her direct look contrasted with her soft, cascading blonde curls that she had tucked into the back of her shirt.
“There is not a lot of space in my closets. I fold; I iron, so everything fits. It also feels better. When you feel better, you are better.”
“That’s so much work!”
She smiled, “Not if you do it right from the start. Watch.”
One of her tan hands smoothed the top edge of the sheet as her fingers searched for the edge. Her other hand gathered and gave a quick shake at each up-take.
“See? Edge to edge.”
I watched as the stiff, even square of cotton was placed on my outstretched arms.
Her hand jabbed into the corner of the fitted sheet, creasing it into a ninety degree angle, again her fingers felt for edges along the clothesline.
“Corner to corner, edge to edge. When I iron, the fabric falls into place. Pressed and in place in my closet.”
The fitted sheet was added to the pile of clean linens in my arms and I followed my friend into her tidy flat and noted that every object had a purpose and a memory and was cared for because they served her and her family.
Every time I take my laundry off my clothesline, I think of my friend and I hope I can be as purposeful and grateful as my friend, corner to corner, edge to edge, making everything fit, and a bit better.