I admit I possess odd, quirky traits. I like ironing. I own a fair amount of linen and cotton clothing but I live in Florida where it is 85F in early March while many parts of the country are still receiving snow. Many people lament the requirement for ironing as a reason to forgo cotton and linen clothes, preferring Rayon or other synthetic fabrics. While a professional dry cleaners can make haste with linen and cotton clothes, the panini pressed clothes leave creases and imprints in the wrong places. I just let my ironing stack up and do it in batches. Ironing is restorative. It converts something crumpled and wrinkled to a fresh, crisp state. The task of ironing is as contemplative as prayer, meditation, knitting, Bonsai trees or running. It’s not a busy task to be rushed. Attention to detail and precision is necessary to do properly. And, it feeds my need for cause and effect, effort and reward. Plus, through the winter months, I let all the clothes requiring ironing pile up in their clean-but-needs-ironing bin. In the spring, I get “new clothes”. If my dress starts the day properly ironed and lightly starched, the wrinkles acquired during the day from sitting and working are acceptable, reasonable and normal. A dress is functional and clean even if un-ironed, but I prefer putting my best foot forward and taking the time to iron. It sets my mind at what feels to me like a proper starting position. I disagree about how compulsive this makes me. I am simply odd that I do the ironing myself.
Sometimes, I feel like a crumpled, wrinkled garment, a wadded up piece of parchment. I have to take a little time and thoughtfully iron myself out. While the crumples don’t keep me from functioning, they do alter my sense of self. Having a few days of respite from the machinations of my normal work-a-day life helps me to “iron out”. This process can’t be rushed. It also doesn’t happen by osmosis. Down time that is restorative can’t be obtained plugged into the boob-tube. Escapism into mind-numbing television or captivating fiction doesn’t provide the contemplative time necessary to iron out my crumple zones. It’s why my idle time, especially the time when my sons are away for the weekend, is occupied by tasks. Friends and acquaintances comment (and I am not sure if it is genuine praise of if its really criticism wrapped up to sound like a compliment) about all these things that I do. I am not a manic personality. I sleep every night. I sleep well. But, I don’t watch the customary four daily hours of television. I wake early almost every day, even on the weekends. And I let myself simply be with myself. But it’s not a hand ringing, fretting process. It’s done while I sew or bake or garden or iron. Sometimes, it takes three or four days to iron myself out.
The last four days I have had off. I took Thursday off because I had battled a cough for 10 days. By Wednesday afternoon, the cough was intractable and talking competed with coughing for primacy. When you can’t talk without coughing, it’s time to pull the emergency brake and go home. The cough is not full resolved, but the sense of panic and agitation are. I had the time to iron myself out. And this is part of what I did….