On Airing our Dirty Laundry

I read an article recently where a woman reflects on the culture in Portugal, their efficient use of energy and the way they air their laundry. Interesting, I thought, and went about my day.

Then I took a long walk through the lovely community of San Clemente. Delighting in the quaint bungalows and simple structures by the sea, I was surprised to see one lone balcony on an apartment complex with three bright colored beach towels hung to dry. Odd, as they were the only towels to be seen for miles and commonly there are ordinances against that. I’ve lived in such communities and know others to have rules prohibiting the hanging of clothing out to dry.

Which got me thinking. Why is it such a big deal for us to air our dirty laundry? Sure it speckles the pristine view of homes and landscape lines, but is that such a bad thing? I remember thinking while in Italy that the laundry draped between buildings was beautiful. Then I think about Penelope’s post on Portugal and how conscious they are about their energy consumption and I wonder, how twisted are our values over here in the States? Or is it just California, where there are so many people they have to enforce so many rules so we don’t stomp all over one another, crushing false hopes and never to be attained dreams.

Or is it that we are so self conscious, that we can’t bear the thought of airing our dirty laundry in front of others? And we certainly don’t want to see yours. Let’s just all pretend to get along, okay? Let’s just pretend that we look as good on the inside as we make it appear on the outside.

But perhaps I’m judging and assuming more than I should. Perhaps there are many good reasons why Southern Californian’s don’t air their laundry outside. If we did though, we might all have a little more good energy and clean conscience on the inside.


Sienna, Italia. October, 2011.

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