I was terrified of my bedsheets drying on the clothesline as a child because I thought they would blow away

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

Hanging laundry on the clothesline to dry was never my mother's favorite chore, especially when I was a child. We lived in the first-floor apartment, but the laundry room was in the basement, and the clothesline was outside the second-floor landing.

According to my mother, carrying the dirty laundry from the first floor to the basement was bad enough. Carrying the wet laundry from the basement to the second-floor landing was worse. Heavy clothes are wet clothes, and the laundry was typically heavy on wet denim and towels, making the entire process a workout.

One warm day, my mother washed and hung the laundry. She had changed the sheets on the beds, and all the linens and pillowcases hung on the clothesline, drying in the sunshine.

"It was a warm sunny day, and there was a light breeze," my mother told me. "It was the perfect weather for drying clothes outside on the line. I was so happy that I had changed the sheets on all three beds."

"I washed them in the laundry room in the basement, carried them two flights of stairs to the window where the clothesline moored, and hung them all up, feeling accomplished. When I had finished with that chore, I was feeling pretty good about myself. So I decided to go grocery shopping."

My mother said she would have to take her three-year-old daughter, me, with her. According to my mother, I was delightful company, but when we walked from the house to the garage, the wind picked up and made the sheets snap on the clothesline.

She said my eyes grew as large as saucers at the sound of the sheets snapping in the breeze. Allegedly, I whimpered and cried, and the more the sheets snapped, the harder and louder I wailed.

I was so upset that my mother had to bring me back into the house instead of loading me into the car and taking me to the grocery store. Once I found out about the sheets snapping and flapping in the wind, I was inconsolable until my mother went back up to the second-floor landing and pulled them all back into the house. They were still damp.

My mother said I told her I was terrified my sheets were going to fly away in the breeze. Although I don't remember the incident, I do remember that I was an easily excitable child who cried over everything. It did not surprise me to learn I had wailed over sheets flapping on a clothesline. That sounds exactly like something I would do.

To this day, I hate the sound of the wind blowing outside. I don't necessarily associate it with the sound my bedsheets made on the line that day when I was a child, but I wouldn't feel surprised if my dislike of the wind as an adult has its roots in my childhood like so many of my other dislikes and phobias.

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