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Casual/Permanent Press
by Sanjana Dhamankar

Casual/Permanent Press is a piece that first began its life as a single sentence entered into my Notes app: “I am alone everywhere now, except for in the laundry room”.

I wrote that line on 28th March 2020. The pandemic at this time was very new and very scary, especially for an international student such as myself, who’d had to come to terms with the fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to go home for the foreseeable future without massively risking my health and the health of my loved ones. My first four months in lockdown were mostly spent in my apartment in Earth Hall South in ERC. I was one in a space meant for five, and I felt the absence of my roommates and the college community in general very deeply. However, there was one place on campus that continued to offer me a sense of kinship, and that was the laundry room. This was because the laundry room was the only place where I’d see evidence of the fact that there were other people still living on campus with me, and that I wasn’t alone.

I reflected on a lot of things during the time I spent in that laundry room, and it is from those hastily recorded reflections and a promise to myself to “use this in your work, like all the writers you idolize so much for once” that Casual/Permanent Press was born.

Through this piece and the character of Maya, I wanted to talk about the odd relationships that I found myself fostering with the traces of other people in that laundry room, be it with the clothes they left behind, or with their detergent bottles, simply because I was grasping for any form of human connection during those initial months of quarantine, regardless of whether it was far-fetched, indirect or with strangers.

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