There's something sad and a little bit romantic about a laundromat at night.
But I also took the laundromat's photo because I worried about it vanishing. It has that look--old and shabby, and therefore real, a Velveteen Rabbit of a place.
The woman who works there could often be seen at a makeshift desk by the laundromat's rightmost window, working behind the shop's odd, geometric metal grill. She would regularly hang the grill with orange peels. Over time, the peels dried and created a sort of abstract art. I loved seeing the woman and I loved seeing the orange peels. (At this time of year, she also hung candy canes.)
I worried about the laundromat because it was old, but also because it was being encroached upon. A Marc Jacobs store opened across the street and another came right next door.
The juxtaposition of the two windows at night always captured my attention--the Asian woman silently working, head bowed behind her orange peels, and on the other side of the wall, a room full of young, excited people delirious for retail. I knew it couldn't last.
The laundromat has not vanished. But it has gotten smaller. You might not notice. It's not the sort of thing you notice unless you've been paying close (perhaps obsessively close) attention. And you might not think it's worth bothering about--the laundromat is still in business, so what does it matter if it's a few feet smaller?
But the window with the orange peels is gone. And that made all the difference.
The ever-expanding Marc Jacobs empire has expanded a bit more, broken through the laundromat's wall, and taken over the woman's former spot. "Little Marc Jacobs" got much bigger and the laundromat got much smaller--in size, yes, but mostly in feeling. With her window gone, you won't see the woman anymore, sitting at her counter at night, taking a little space for herself at the end of a long day of hard work. All you'll see now in that space is more expensive stuff to buy your kids for Christmas.