“I would literally kill someone to have towels like that.” I worked in retail for seven years before I became a special education teacher. Several departments at two different stores. But I will never forget being a teenager folding the towel wall.
We only folded part of it. Most people didn’t know that the parts out of reach, going all the way up to the vaulted ceilings, were fake. Imagine carving mattress foam to look like the front of a stack of towels. And then covering that with towel material. They were just a display. Not really towels at all.
But here is this woman in her early 30s. Teasing that she would commit murder for those perfectly folded towels. She has three kids. Two young ones in a double stroller and an older one who kept wandering off.
When we were first married, we had matching towels. And ours did look like that towel wall. It was muscle memory, but I could perfectly fold towels faster than I could fold other things. Nine years later, I think our worn out, mismatched towels from three different batches from three different brands would be rejected by an animal shelter.
Last weekend, we had my mother-in-law and Dave’s grandma over for dinner. Laundry Chair was full. Of course. Because that’s my life right now. I am just accepting it. But Grandma started folding our towels. I hadn’t noticed how raggedy they were until I saw them in someone else’s hands. Falling apart. Littered with holes and strings, and completely wrinkled. They had been in the chair for awhile. And there were more beach towels than anything. I stole them from my sissy-in-law’s yard sale.
I was that woman I chuckled at 14 years ago. Three kids. Towels a mess. Longingly looking up at the perfect display. I could tease about committing a crime for perfectly matching towels. Because I normally don’t think about it, but that’s one of the things we gave up. There are just too many things to buy. Towels don’t make the list.
Not everyone gives up perfect towels when they have kids and bills and stress. I have seen laundry piles full of beautiful, fluffy towels. I guess somewhere along the way, we did. I bought new kitchen hand towels from Goodwill a couple months back. People see our kitchen. But we are usually the only ones who see our towels. For the few minutes it takes to dry off our beautiful selves. It’s not that we aren’t worth it, I just haven’t prioritized it.
We don’t usually have company using our bath towels. Unless you want to stay in a Charlotte Bronte-style Bed & Breakfast, complete with screams, noises, and possibly fires, our home isn’t conducive to entertaining folks. And our towels would’ve sent Rochester into a rage spiral.
But there is my mother-in-law’s mom. Holding my raggedy towels. And I realize I have stayed with her so many times and used her towels more times than I can count. They don’t match, but they are all in beautiful condition. She always takes amazing care of her things. Some of her towels are actually as old as me, but have factory sewn edges. They speak about her character. Hardworking, but beautiful. And no nonsense. But always ready for company.
Frazzled, but comfortable. Awkward, but working. Getting the job done. Even with rough edges and imperfections. Gave up on perfect years ago. Because being usable is far better than being pristine. I guess I am also my towels.
I am fourteen years older. It takes about five times longer to fold towels with my adorable co-worker. So completely worth it. Graham started the serious art of folding towels right after his 5th birthday. He said it was a job for ‘Big Boys and Dusty Cwophoppers!’ And he said he wanted ‘pitchers to always wemember’ his big day.