in hot water
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.