I moved to Japan in May 2004. While I took a lot from my time in Japan,
it’s the tiniest, most apparently innocuous piece of
my experience in Japan that’s
filled my heart
Growing up in profound trauma, I also grew up far outside my body:
Things happened to my body in the physical plane, but none of that mattered
to my mind, which subsisted on words and insights untouched by physical sensations.
While living in Japan, I found there was one activity that brought all of me together for a few minutes at a time:
hanging the laundry to dry.
In each of the three Japanese cities I called home, I’d wash my clothing in an in-home washing machine
before then, with pastel-colored clothespins, hanging them up to dry.
Something about hanging them up to dry was so satisfying:
For the moments I pinned my wet clothing to dry clothes lines,
everything else fell away.
A few months ago, I happened to buy a bamboo camisole from a grocery store. All my other camisoles had worn through, so–why not?
I was astonished to find the camisole felt good against my skin. Great, even.
I didn’t just wear it. I looked forward to wearing it. I’d put it on, only to discover my head was instantly aligned with my feet.
A couple years ago, I didn’t know what I liked or what felt good to me; I had to ask one of my sisters if she had any ideas. But when I wore this? I knew what “good” felt like to me.
I bought a few more shirts from the folks behind the camisole. Every time I wore the shirts, I felt like my skin was being kissed all over;
it just felt amazing! Except: all the shirts were black, gray, and white.
Could I find something like this in color?
I did find a company that made super-comfortable bamboo clothes in colors: mostly the colors of the sea, which is appropriate given that the line was created by fisherfolk.
After I got my first order from them, I began weeding out every non-bamboo top in my closet:
Why wear something that’s uncomfortable, and stifling, and itchy, and too thick,
when I can wear something that just feels right?
It was weird going from buying, for my entire working life, the cheapest cotton items I could find at Ross to filling my closet with more costly, more durable bamboo items …
… but the truth is, while I wear them, it’s easy to keep my head where my feet are;
it’s easy to stay right here, right now, even after a lifetime
of floating away at the slightest hint of threat.
As if the feeling of the fabric on my skin (and all the many wonders that flow from this) weren’t enough, there’s another joy in all this: With bamboo-derived clothing, it’s best to skip the drier. It’s best to … let the sun do the work of drying!
Here in a SoCal rental, I don’t have lines strung up for drying clothing. What I do have is a folding rack my husband picked up a year or two back.
After I wash a load of laundry, I
set up the clothes rack for drying,
separate the bamboo from the non-bamboo clothing,
dry the non-bamboo clothing in the drier, and
carry the bamboo clothing out to the rack.
There, in the SoCal sun, I spend two or three minutes,
carefully setting out clothes to dry.
The rack isn’t at all the same
as when I hung clothing to dry in Japan.
My stage of life isn’t at all the same—not even close!
And yet: for the few moments I’m hanging up clothing to dry,
my head and my feet are in exactly
Today, I wear bamboo clothing.
I used to live among tall reeds of bamboo,
and fall sleep to their rustling in the breeze; but today,
when I wear bamboo-originated clothing, I’m grateful
not only for the feeling of it on my skin,
but for the caring steps I take before it
reaches my skin;
for the moments
in which I step outside of time to
give it (and me) the gift of
drying in the sun.