Yea, this sucked.
Not ALL my laundry, but damn near most of it.
Here’s what happened:
I’m traveling with an organization called Remote Year, which you’d know if you’d read any of my previous blog posts or follow me on social media. Remote Year provides a number of services to us in each city — laundry being one of them. I decided to jump on this, as most of our apartments in Hanoi don’t have a dryer. So, I was given a few laundry bags and was told to hand my bag of dirty clothes to the doorman of my building, who would then know what to do with said bag. Okay, cool. Simple enough.
So, that’s exactly what I did. I handed my bag of dirty clothes to the guy, threw him a thumbs up and a smile, and went about my day.
Something didn’t feel right though. It all seemed a little too easy. Maybe it’s the Jersey girl in me, but I get real suspicious of things that seem way too convenient. I even mentioned this to my roommate: “Ya know Madz, I dropped my clothes off to that guy downstairs.. I’m hoping he knows what to do with them.”
I was told by Remote Year that I’d have my clothes back the same day if given to the doorman before 9am OR the next day if given to him after 9am. A few days had passed at this point and there was no sign of my laundry. So, I reached out to someone on the city team in Hanoi to get to the bottom of it.
I find out this: the doorman apparently had no recollection of ever receiving a bag of laundry from me. This is what he says to the city team member (who is now serving as the middleman since the doorman speaks no English and I clearly speak no Vietnamese). So, the said bag of clothes that was handed to him was clearly mistaken for something else … I’m assuming garbage.
Excuse my language but… HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
With the exception of a few things, all of my underwear and socks, 6 pairs of black Lululemon yoga pants (AKA my uniform), 5 tank tops, a few t-shirts and a sweater … all gone! Most likely in the garbage. The laundry bags given to me were black so I’m assuming this to be the case. The doorman clearly mistook my laundry for garbage. Cool.
Let me say this — I am NOT by any means complaining about Remote Year in any form or fashion here. The platform is great and I’m having the best year of my life, despite this incident. I truly believe that their laundry system here needs to be looked at and re-evaluated so this doesn’t happen to anyone in the future. And that is because I assumed, and rightly so, that that doorman would know what to do with that black bag of clothes handed to him. Not a safe assumption, though. Lesson learned.
So. Here I am. In Hanoi. With no underwear and nearly all of my beloved yoga pants, gone. Yikes. Don’t let my humor around the situation fool you … I was LIVID. Those pants aren’t cheap. But more importantly, they are a source of comfort. My identity, which now — in a city that feels super foreign — has been compromised, in many ways. It’s like I lost a piece of me that I can’t find or replace here. It’s a shitty feeling.
Remote Year did right by me though, by paying me back for all my lost clothes. Thanks for that, RY. But that is not the point of this blog post. The point of this post is to say one thing: that I could have taken that money and gone out right away to shop for new clothes (which here in Vietnam isn’t ideal for what I’m looking for, but still an option, nonetheless).
But I didn’t do that. I decided — with the exception of buying a few more pairs of underwear — that I was gonna make due with what I had. When you’re already living out of a suitcase, you’re not dealing with much to begin with, so this was one hell of a conclusion to come to … but something that I decided almost immediately.
And it comes down to this: we think we need more than we actually do. Whether you’re living out of a suitcase or not, I believe this to be true. Maybe this is an American thing? I’m not sure. But this was something that I was accustomed to seeing back home and was also, in many ways, how I was raised. I was used to buying 8 new pairs of jeans before the school year started. I had plenty of friends with more pairs of sneakers than they could count. Back in my old Upper East Side apartment, I had more sports bras and yoga pants than I knew what to do with.
Now I’m asking myself the question — WHY? Is ALL of that stuff really necessary? The more I think about it, the more I realize that the majority of clothes I had back home spent more time in my dresser and closet than they did on me. So if the question is necessity, then no — all that stuff is NOT really necessary. The majority of it is barely used, let’s be real.
This relates to my original point: about things being a source of comfort. I think this is our collective reason why … the reason why so many of us cling on to things. Material things. Because we feel like we need them. Because they validate who we are. They represent success. Or happiness. Or some other feeling. I don’t really wanna go down a rabbit hole of psychoanalysis. Again, not the point here. The point is that if you attempt to live with less — if you just give yourself the chance — you might amaze yourself at just how possible it is.
I’ve been living out of a suitcase for almost 6 months, so this mentality has been “forced” in many ways. I NEED to make it work. Especially now, with even less than I started with. Back home, living in an apartment, with more space to fill, I can’t imagine this being as easy. But it is possible, let me tell you. It’s just a difference in mindset. Just like anything else.