Writing about Albuquerque Laundromats

Like most people who have somehow found themselves suspended in the ether of Albuquerque, New Mexico, I am wondering just exactly how it is that I have come to this place, what events in my life have led me here. It’s a place that I would have no shortage of words trying to describe. It’s a place full of absurdity, mired in alarm tape. But despite this overall sense of dread one feels here, the place also possesses a faint scent of charm, and this just might begin to explain some of the impulses, the tremors that have brought me here.

As of right now, I have been living in Albuquerque exactly two months, three weeks, and five days, and during that time, I have gone through the entire list of psychoses that oftentimes accompanies the writer’s life: despair, exhaustion, fear of failure, loneliness, depression, hatred, anxiety. But just last week, I saw something that at least began to get at the heart of the matter, why it is that I’ve found myself living here, and why it is that I still haven’t left. It was about two-thirty in the morning on a Saturday night and I was doing my laundry at Harold’s Laundromat on Girard NE. I was dividing my attention between the Spanish soap opera on TV and a book about native New Mexican plants I picked up at a dollar store for fifty cents earlier that day. For the record, I have always found something incredibly romantic about laundromats.

I don’t know when it happened, but at some point between the rinse cycle and the spin cycle, a man came into the laundromat with a brown paper bag clenched in his fist. Immediately, I noticed there was something off about him, though I couldn’t say just what it was. He was middle-aged. It had just started to rain outside and the rain was coming down in hard sheets, shaking the big picture window. The man was drenched from head to toe, and so he peeled off his coat and put it in the dryer. He bought coffee in a paper cup out of the coin machine.

There was no one else in the laundromat at this late hour, and when the man sat down in the seat across from me, he emptied out the contents of his paper bag onto the seat next to him. There were five green apples—that’s it—and so I sat there and watched as he ate every single one of them, one after the other, down to the core, which he placed back into the paper bag after he was finished. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a man eat five apples, one after another after another, though I will say that there was something strange about it, something oddly sinister about this man, something evil.

Now this doesn’t explain exactly how or why it is that I’ve come to this place, but it’s something, I’m convinced, I needed to see and could’ve only stood witness to here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It suggests something absurd about this place, something ominous, and this, perhaps, is why I’ve come here. I have found evil in the heart of Albuquerque and I’m not about to leave anytime soon.

Reid Maruyama was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California.  He currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.