Bathing

clawfoot2

It has been years since I had a shower.

By this I mean a shower enclosure in my home. When I built my little house in the big woods, I installed a 100-year-old clawfoot tub. Found on Craigslist, it came from a Victorian house in north Portland and had a cranberry-red exterior. Both my contractor and plumber tried to talk me out of the decision, calling it impractical; the tub was heavy, old and worn, and challenging to install. Yet while this was true, they couldn’t see their misguided motives, clearly the result of too little bath-taking. They encouraged me to install a generic shower enclosure with a bathtub. Yet anyone who’s tried to recline in such enclosures knows the tubs don’t conform to the human body—being we are not shaped like praying mantises. Thus I insisted on the clawfoot.

I have a penchant for submerging in water. Though it’s indulgent, I bathe every morning, and soak in an outdoor mineral-salt hot tub every night (my friend Shonna once suggested I’m a selkie—a seal-person in Irish mythology). Submerged in water is, for me, the most relaxing posture. It is a place where I pray and stare into the woods, either through the window (in the bathtub) or all around me (in the hot tub). While in high school, my daughter did prefer showers. To prove my tolerance, I installed a curtain enclosure and shower head over the clawfoot. But she’s now a bather, thanks be to God. My husband converted as well. I removed the curtain and showerhead years ago, for why keep up the sham of harboring shower-takers?

Bathing slows people down. Immersion in hot water makes us mildly soporific, a feeling unappealing to those rushing to get out the door. Bathing requires rising earlier, taking it slow. One must wait for the water to run. Who has time for this, you might ask? … Who doesn’t? Who can afford not to bathe? If you have a bathtub, and if you fit in it (some individuals are too tall), you’ll find few cheaper pleasures or better therapies.

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