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Saturday Trips To The Dirty Old Laundromat This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Every Saturday Mama and I would spend our day in the Dirty Old Laundromat just two blocks from Mango Street, at the corner of Main.

Mama and I would wash and dry our entire family's clothes. Sometimes she would also take Mrs. Viejita's clothes. She was a little, old lady who couldn't walk to the laundromat and so Mama took her small bundle of raggedy clothes.

Our load was big, usually very heavy for me to carry two blocks. The load made two blocks seem like two miles, but I never told Mama that I was tired. I wanted her to think I was strong and responsible for my age.

The old laundromat was so crowded because everyone from the neighborhood, especially Mango Street, used it. On weekends, it was packed from 8 a.m. until midnight. The laundromat was small and there were never enough machines or tables to fold the laundry on. Most of the machines were old but they worked better than new ones. I guess this was because the old machines had more experience washing clothes. Each machine had the name of the person responsible for cleaning up and maintaining it.

Once we got there, Mama put the colored clothes in one machine; and I put the smelly white clothes in another. I couldn't wait to get change from the change machine, it felt like I was at a casino becoming a millionaire with everyone watching. It was $2.50 per wash and so I'd put $1.25 in, jam it in, then reinsert and jam it in a second time as the machine started to spin.

While we waited for the machine to finish, Mama usually asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would always say "I don't know" and Mama would tell me what her dreams were when she was little - and why they never came true. As the machine stopped, and we loaded the dryer, she told me that my dreams would come true because I was in a different situation. I could be whatever I wanted because I was born American. I felt proud to be American and yet wondered why I couldn't be just like Mama.

After we finished folding and packing everything for the short, yet long, two blocks, our Saturday had passed and Mama was ready to prepare supper. Then we would eat and fall asleep watching a movie.

No one could wash clothes like Mama did. She made our clothes feel and smell like new. You know, that new smell inside a brand new car. No one knew how she made our clothes new every week. Mama never used expensive detergents and sometimes not all the stains came out, but Mama's touch always made up for it. Yes, Mama's touch was special because we knew there was no touch like hers. Spending Saturdays with Mama was not bad at all, because I knew I added to her touch. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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