California is in a drought, and as of 5 o’clock tonight, so is my water heater.
After arriving home late last night, the decision to put my body in a shower or a bed was quite simple. So, I lay my head on my striped pillow, and dreamt about winning the Daytona 500.
Today, amongst the Sunday chores and lethargy, I yearned for the evening shower that would wash off the sheen of Saturday. I folded laundry, smelling the fabric softener, becoming anxious to be swaddled in its cottony goodness. And I washed a few dishes, scrubbing the plates until they shimmered, becoming very aware of every oily hair on my head.
Come dinner time, while I was knee deep in a cheeseburger, my mom shuffled into the living room, robe ridden and shivering, to inform us of the icy drizzle coming from our shower head. Our immediate solution was to call my aunt and uncle down the road. Their plumbing issues had previously brought them to our house in the late hours of the weekend and we were sure they wouldn’t hesitate to provide us with a heated shower haven. So, even when calls and texts went unanswered, my brother and I were unafraid to show up on their door step, shampoo and loofa in hand, to put the spare key they gave us to work. Much to our dismay however, the key was outdated and useless, so we trudged back across the front lawn to my car and stirred frustration into our individual mixes of dirt and sweat.
I knocked on our bathroom door—submitting to the fact that I would have to wash my hair in the cold sink—and heard my sister answer from the bathtub, explaining her solution. I walked back to the kitchen and sifted through our cabinets in search of our biggest pots. One by one I filled them to their capacity and brought them to a boil, wishing I could toss pasta amongst the bubbles, or maybe some frozen vegetables. Then, armed with pot holders, I waddled back to the bathroom and poured the steaming water into the tub. The 4 pots provided me with a scalding 2 inches of water to work with. I turned on the cold water, hoping to decrease the heat just enough to eliminate the chance of any first degree burns.
When I dipped my toe into the water after a mere minute of absence to retrieve a towel, it became very clear to me that I had waited too long. The steaming inches of goodness I once feared would roast my butt cheeks, now felt like a clammy sidewalk puddle left over from a night’s rainstorm.
I dipped my feet in slowly, letting each toe scream in fear of pretentious hypothermia. Then, crossing my legs like a tween at summer camp, I sat down, feeling inexplicably dirtier than I had before.
I untied my hair from its messy bun, feeling it remain standing without any aid, and reached for the large plastic Dodger cup I had brought as my showering companion. I laid it on its side in the tub, watching it swallow the water like Ms. Pacman would octopi, and dumped cupful after cupful over the top of my head.
As I washed my body, I watched the clear water become cloudy with soap, with the occasional long brown hair slithering to the surface like a human soup anaconda. I scrubbed my hair, flipped it over my head and rinsed it clean, occasionally fearing I would accidentally drown by hair waterboarding and constantly frightening myself with my own reflection that looked too much like the girl from the Ring. And I closed my eyes, annoyed by the constant stream of soap daggers, and horrified at the angle I had of my naked torso, which now made me regret eating the entire side order of fries and onion rings.
When I shifted in the water, trying to avoid a butt cramp, the shower curtain grazed my foot, and I mistook it for some sort of drain dwelling super creature that had seeped in beneath the cream colored water, sure to take my life, and I decided it was time to abort mission. I reached for my towel, swaddling my shivering self in all of its fabric softener glory, and pushed the drain down with my big toe.
As I watched the water spiral down, I began to laugh at toddler esque bath I had just taken at age 24. For without the sour attitude and lack of a rubber duck or a sail boat, I could have easily found myself with a bubble beard and an accidental underwater fart.
I reached for a Q-tip, listening to the drain slurp up the puddle of soapy Saturday I’d left behind and I suddenly realized how lucky I was. Lucky for the water I had access to on a daily basis and for the warm shower to which I had become so accustomed. Because even in its awkwardness and lack of substantial satisfaction, I knew that a Dodger cup bath would be a luxury in some parts of the world and with that in mind, I left the bathroom without a single complaint.