Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Metaphysics of the Clothes Care Center III: A coming apostasy?

Some of you may remember these three posts, in which I waxed philosophical about our apartment complex's humble Clothes Care Center. Rest assured that the Meridian's clothes have been cared for in the interim, but to be frank nothing much of a blogworthy nature has been happening there. I suppose that what some people find tedious in liturgy-based denominations' services and masses--chiefly, their Sunday-in, Sunday-out fixed order of events--can be said of the central activities of Clothes Care as well, though it's difficult to imagine that can ever be the case, even for someone as appreciative of the Center as I think I showed myself to be in those earlier posts.

So imagine my surprise, my wonder, even, when I approached The Clothes Care Center Friday night and saw two men standing at the entrance with what appeared to be blueprints rolled up and tucked under their arms, contemplating a post placed under the corner of that part of the roof that forms a large overhang at the entrance. As I approached, the first thing I heard one of them say was, "We can't remove that--it's holding up the roof."

My curiosity piqued, I asked what was going on. It turns out that the complex has been sold to new management company (this sale had been pending for some weeks), who wants to convert the Clothes Care Center into office space for management.


Me: Where will the new laundry room go, then?
Guy (gesturing in the direction of the parking lot): Somewhere over there.
Something in his tone told me it would do no good to ask if the floorplan of the current Center, so cunningly configured--the distillation of centuries of meditation on how best to express the themes of Time and Mutability as they intersect with the mundane task of Clothes Care--would be preserved in the design of the new Center. It will not be, I am almost certain.

The Clothes Care Center is, physically, long in the tooth. Several of its machines don't function, or don't function well. The tile is stained in places; the furniture needs replacing; the heat, as I've mentioned before, defies description in the summer months. Outward, cosmetic changes would be useful: they would help the Center to reconnect with younger or less-appreciative people, making the Center more relevant to their lives. What I fear, though, are deeper, more foundational changes. To those who have grown to appreciate that space, the deep spiritual need for the people to have a Clothes Care Center that functions, as the current one does, as a place to think on those above-named themes, will almost certainly be sacrificed in favor of another need: that of the hierarchy to have more, and new, space. This can come to no good end, this forsaking of the literal and symbolic foundations on and around which the Center was designed.

I fear that I will find myself saying, at some point in the future, "I didn't leave the Clothes Care Center--the Clothes Care Center left me."

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