As you may remember, in my article published a couple of months ago — A Memory of Martha — she was the owner of our local laundromat. Bad health returned Martha to her home country for three months for some rest and relaxation.
With Martha out of my life, and her replacement uninterested in getting our laundry washed when promised, I realized I had to find a different place to drop of our weekly mound of dirty clothes.
We have several other laundromats in the neighborhood and I popped into one of them with a small “test load” to see how quickly they returned my clothes and how much the experience would cost.
I was amazed to see a 20-year-younger version of my beautiful wife Janna working in the new laundromat. I immediately dubbed her “J2” in my mind and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her as she processed our clothes and took my order. Looking at J2 was like peering into a Time Machine and falling in love all over again with the exact same person who just happened to be someone else and who was wearing a wedding ring I did not give to her.
J2 had the same expressions, caramel eyes, skin tone, bone structure and personality of my wife — but from two decades ago! J2 was from the Middle East and not the Midwest. If I had to guess, I’d say J2 was Egyptian. Asking her name is a too-close familiarity that doesn’t yet seem right to broach. J2 knows my name because I have to write it on the laundry ticket.
The Real Janna finds the whole J2 fascination funny. Janna sees a rogue similarity in J2 — I would argue that “rogue similarity” is actually a full-blown twinning!
J2 told me I could pick up my clothes in 90 minutes. 90 minutes! Wowser! That’s fast! Six hours was the usual pick up time with Martha, so this new place, not knowing me at all, was slaughtering the old Martha wash load records.
I returned to J2 in 90 minutes to pick up my clothes and they were all dry and folded to perfection. Dryer sheets were fitted between the stack to keep it all fresh smelling.
I’ve been back to J2 three times. I am overjoyed.
I vowed never to go back to Martha, if and when she returns, because I could never now cheat on J2 — and Martha did abandon her laundromat for three months without really caring if her loyal customers were taken care of or not and I was a really good tipper.
Then, last week, when the Original Janna and I were walking home, we were cut off by a silver Jeep right before we were going to step from the curb into the street! That Jeep cut the corner, stopped and completely blocked us from stepping off the curb. We noticed the driver was speaking just as we were ready to start yelling at her for cutting us off.
It was Martha!
She had put on some weight, she seemed a little sad, and she was saying something about coming back to the USA early because her son had an accident or something…
I told Martha we weren’t expecting her until January and she waived me off and then waived me over with her hand as if telling me to return to her laundromat now.
I told her that, since she left, and stuck us with a replacement who was more interested in repairing TVs instead of washing clothes, we’d found another place and we were staying with the new laundromat.
I was breaking up with Martha.
Martha looked at me and forced a laugh and waived and sped off down the streeet.
Janna looked at me and said, “Well, that was awkward.”
“Yeah. I didn’t know what else to say except the truth. I hope it didn’t come off too harsh.”
“You did fine,” J1 said, “You had to tell her sometime. The new place is better anyway.”
My heart skipped a beat as I realized my Time Machine J2 was now safe to live another load of laundry.