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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.  

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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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