I Haven’t Taken A Bath In 20 Years

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The last bathtub I had that didn’t skeeve me out to the point of getting vaccinated afterward was in my mother’s house. I was 17 and very confident in our disinfecting abilities. After that I lived in college apartments, never conducive to bathing in an actual tub for reasons I’m certain you don’t need me to detail, particularly not if you’re reading this on a lunch break of some kind. And ever since I’ve lived in very old, very original-fixture buildings with bath tubs that had seen the likes of heaven knows how many people, dogs, and pests. I haven’t taken a bath in 20 years because conditions have not been favorable.

And I love baths! I consider them akin to very briefly going swimming. I enjoy fun bath products, gentle buoyancy, and the overall quietness that comes from sitting in a room where the only sounds you hear are gentle water swishes. Baths are form, not function. I’m not in there to clean my body, I’m there to clean my mind. And for 20 years, I walked past the Lush store beckoning me with it’s consumptive pungency, knowing full well I couldn’t do a damn thing with what that store had to offer me.

Over the weekend, I engaged in that most trying of activities, the one that threatens to fork your sanity out of your brain with flaming tongs and toss it into an open vat of comic book acid. I moved. I moved to a new apartment. And I mean actually new. No one has ever lived in this building before, no one has ever lived in my apartment before, and most importantly: no one has ever bathed in my tub before. It is a massive life upgrade and yes, if you’re curious, I am scared of my own rent.

The act of moving is itself a struggle I don’t wish to recount here, I prefer to start my Monday mornings on a positive note, thank you. But what I will say is that it left me with body aches and soreness I’ve only ever felt while participating in mildly dangerous hiking activities in our great nation’s national parks. Then, as Sunday evening approached, I reminded myself that through a series of errands and Amazon Prime deliveries, I had prepared for this moment: It’s bathtime.

I ran a tub of hot water and scooped in a few handfuls of epsom salts in the hopes they’d mimic the effects of a massage, as I hate being touched my strangers. Then I unwrapped a glorious Lush bath bomb called “Geode” (I chose it because it sparkles) and dropped it in the water while frantically trying to boomerang it’s effervescent dance.

My cauldron well-seasoned, I lowered myself in and allowed a wave (no pun intended) of nostalgia to wash (again, sorry) over me in the most gloriously comforting aquatic hug. It had been an anxiety riddled weekend and for a brief moment my stomach muscles stopped contracting and allowed me to just be somewhere without being afraid. I loved this bath, I knew it would be the first of many, even an hour later when I saw the ring of pearlescent gold remnants that had absolutely coated my previously virgin tub. I’m about to get really good at bathtub scrubbing, I’ll share my secrets don’t worry.

Twenty years is too long to go without a bath. And while to most it might seem like some warm water and essential oil-scented baking soda, to me it marks a massive new chapter in my life, one full of hard work and optimism. This bathtub is proof that I value myself, that I have confidence in myself, and that the little voice inside of me that’s always told me I only deserve the worst, cheapest version of everything doesn’t get a say in my life anymore. It’s a massive change, and I’m going to do everything I can to do this change justice. Because I deserve a life that looks forward with excitement, not fear, and I’m doing my best to let that soak in.

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NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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