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in hot water

April 15, 2009

I started thinking about baths.  Baths might not mark your years, but my family is quite taken by pools of hot water.  There’s nothing a hot bath can’t cure, and there’s a lot that can only be fixed with a soak: fevers, the bone cold of a walk in wet snow, the gray sky stretching out unfathomable.  Something gets washed away.    

A bad flu on my first Christmas home after moving to Boston for college.  Four a.m., I wake up in a cold sweat, sheets soaked through, you might know the feeling, the fear of movement lest you discover some new chill that didn’t register before, I drag myself into the bath. 

As an exchange student in southern Spain.  No central heating in the apartment buildings.  Hard rain in the afternoons.  A lingering cold and a hot bath in a half-size tub, where I can sit cross-legged head bowed.  Pink ceramic.  Feeling alone, I read a novel a week, and took baths.

Hotel rooms, always the first thing to do, bathe.  Little soaps, plastic no-slip mat, serious water pressure, and thick white towels.

It’s so hard to get out of the bath.  I like to count.  After 10 seconds I will get out, turn the water off, introduce myself, volunteer, put on my running shoes, apply for another job, call him, not call him, breathe. 

Is it worth the chill?  I knew someone who hated showers, because of the sudden temperature differentiation.  You gird yourself for it, undressing quickly, feet in I crouch, the pelvis is so sensitive to heat.  Slowly now, it hurts a little, slowly sinking, lower lip submerged, small ovals on the top of my thighs the last to go, I like shallow baths, cold knees.  Feet sliding over the tap, red skin stretches grotesquely under the water, bubbles are for amateurs.  Tired now, further down, eyes under, quiet.  

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kent McMIllan permalink
    April 16, 2009 4:43 am

    That is a pretty nice post, although I say this feeling that it is unseemly for someone your mom’s age to be a reader and commenter in this instance. I’m afraid that in “Susannah and the Elders” I’ll never pass for Susannah.

    It does makes me wonder , though, what will be born from the dissolving waters of the figurative bath, what essence is gestating at the moment. I get the idea that things seem to be progressing, even if the mundane details of ordinary employment lag a bit.

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