It’s funny how one little thing you learn at one inconsequential moment in your life can become a lifelong habit.
In my early twenties I spent a couple of weeks visiting Singapore. One of my college best friends’ expat parents lived there, and they kindly and generously offered to let me stay with them throughout visit.
One evening, because I’m a decent person, I helped them put away the dishes after dinner. I was wiping each with a clean towel as I pulled them out of the dishwasher when I felt a hand on my arm.
“Oh, you don’t have to dry them,” Caroline, my friend’s mother, reassured me. “It’s fine putting them back in the cabinets a little wet.”
I think I may have stared at her, maybe even a bit slack-jawed, for a good few seconds as I processed this jarring little tip.
Put clean dishes back in the cabinet…wet? Straight from the dishwasher?
I did as I was told…and I’ve never dried another dish, utensil, cup, or glass since. They go straight from the dishwasher and into their proper stacks in the cabinet or drawer.
I do the same with clothes. Growing up, I’d always been taught (at least, when I lived in the US) to separate darks and whites. It’s gospel, right?
That is, until I lived in Japan. While I was carefully separating the darks from whites like the good, decent person that I am, I noticed that the woman who owned the laundromat was looking at me curiously. She asked me what I was doing.
I understood enough Japanese by then to get the gist of her question, and I haltingly answered in my best broken Japanese. “I’m making sure that my darks and whites are separate. You know, so that the colors don’t bleed onto my whites.”
Or something close to that anyway. Her eyes grew wide, and she nodded and turned to the equally curious other women in the laundromat and repeated my response in much better Japanese.
“Don’t you do the same thing?” I asked.
She laughed and vigorously shook her head. “Never. I’ve never heard of that.”
She pointed to the full washers behind her, and sure enough, they were spinning a mix of colors and whites.
How was I just learning about this? I thought back to all the minutes and then hours of my life that I likely wasted separating my darks and whites.
Since then I’ve just dumped all of my clothes like the carefree rebel that I am into a single load, colors be damned.
And life just goes.