Sitting in the bathtub drinking a beer feels so luxurious now; it may have felt luxurious two years ago too, but not like now. Now it feels like what I would think drinking fine champagne is like. I usually drink prosecco or some other sparkling wine, and although it’s delicious and delightful and hints at luxury, it is not fine or fancy.
In the tub I am holding two small soap slivers—one slightly larger than the other, both smooth and oval—pressing them together to make a little soap sculpture. Like something zen, or wiccan, or Jewish, or hippie—small rocks stacked up to say something spiritual or funerary. Me, saving these little soap scraps like it’s the Depression, thinking about how to foam up this small amount of soap in my luxurious bath. The water so hot, my skin steams on the surface.
Somehow there is something thrifty in me; I use soap until each sliver is gone—I try to incorporate a little bit onto a larger chunk. It is as if I didn’t have a cupboard full of soap and shampoo at the ready. I use every last drop of toothpaste (I have been known to cut open the tube) and pound the lotion bottle on my hand until the very last blob comes out. I hate wasting those things.
As a kid, I loved to squeeze the toothpaste out into the sink to watch it coil, to smell the minty freshness, to then smear it around with my fingers into a minty abstract painting and finally to rinse all proof of my art away. All gone. We get so far away from ourselves, from our childhood, our kid-ness as we age. Now, with a baby I try to remember what it all was like—what I liked (the smell of the hose on hot blacktop making a rainbow) and what I didn’t like (playing baseball with David and Jason Fedders.) I remember my mom singing to me and rocking me at night. I remember the smell of the basement; slightly dank and moldy and like sawdust and motor oil. I remember running through the long church pews while my family practiced in the choir.
When I was very small, I remember excitedly running through the house and bumping my head on the kitchen counter. I remember struggling to tie my shoes and which foot again? I was constantly confounded by which shoe went on which foot. I liked Sesame Street quite a bit but loved the Bloodhound Gang and the Electric Company. I also liked MASH—which seems strange for a young kid. I don’t even like MASH now. My grandma would make popcorn on the stove on Sunday nights and we would have popcorn and 7Up and watch The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins or The Wizard of Oz. I thought most adults were old and soulless, but I like Mary Poppins and my grandma.
I loved taking baths when I was a kid. All the splashing was fantastic. What imagination! I had in water games and stories that I would tell. The mermaids, and pirates, and dolphins, and surfing and swimming, and boats—I had many yachts. I loved that luxurious word yacht. And now, the bath is my only recluse, my only quiet—head under the water—my fifteen minutes of peace. There is no longer any time for mermaids and pirates. Some nights I don’t even wash; I just semi-recline (damn small-ass tub!), sit very still, listen to the roar of the water and try to relax. I let go of the day, of the baby crying and fussing and whinnying—let go of the lost job, and the lost freedoms, and the exhaustion, and fear (what if I am not good enough?) and I try to be still. To be clean. To find a place to start over again—tomorrow will be better/different/more fun. I will start again tomorrow.