The bathtub beckons its finger to me
White, clean, ceramic, and deep
Come, come rest your body with me, I will hold space for you
I live in the high, cold Andes Mountains of Peru and bathtubs are rare
Showers prevail, I haven’t had a good bath in years
Do I dare?
On the third day, the lure becomes irresistible and I have run out of excuses as to why I shouldn’t
I am alone and I have hours on my hands
I am traveling and my hostess won’t be back for hours
No excuses, Lisa, just do it.
I think of the last few times I attempted a bath, all dissatisfying in a variety of ways.
“Yes”, I decide, “Now I will do it.”
I put the plug in the drain. I was told that it doesn’t fit well, so to watch out that it doesn’t become displaced by the force of the water filling the tub.
Plug in place, I turn on the hot water only.
The shower was left turned on and now my head is blasted with cold water.
I laugh, I don’t care. I am going to be getting wet anyway…
I turn the shower off and wait for the hot water to come through.
As the water starts to warm, I fix the ill-fitting plug and wait for the suction to secure it in place.
This is a big bathtub and the water is coming in slowly, it could take a while.
I remember my hostess lamenting lukewarm showers here.
But I am in Florida, so it could still be hot enough.
In the cold of the high mountains of Peru, the tub itself takes much of the warmth of the water just to warm the tub and with the slowness of filling it, usually about 45 minutes, it is never a hot bath, and lukewarm just doesn’t cut it for me.
I watch as the tub starts to fill, the flow is remarkably slow.
Yes, okay, this could take a while - but I remember how in years past I have loved lying it the bath as it fills with water.
That’s it! I shuck off my clothes and step in. The water is hot, but not so hot that I cannot tolerate it. Perhaps the hot water heater is small and it will run out of hot water at some point, so I leave on just the hot water in case it should go cold at some point. This is what normally happens in Peru on the rare occasion when I have had the opportunity to try to have a good bath, which has never actually worked to my satisfaction.
I ease my body into the small pool of hot water that is gathering in the tub. I slowly lie back, giving my body time to adjust to the heat of the water. I feel grateful that there are no sandpaper, anti-skid flowers or dolphins stuck to the bottom of the tub. It is smooth, sleek, spacious and warm.
I lie flat on my back in the tub as it fills with hot water.
Oh my god, I have wanted this for so long, for years, and finally, it is perfect.
It is hot, it is wet, it is surrounding me, engulfing me, taking me.
The shower curtain is closed, keeping the warm, humid steam in my private sanctuary.
The water is so hot that little beads of sweat start to form on my upper lip. I savor this.
Time is suspended. I know what it is I am waiting for, and it is a while yet in coming...
My mind wanders in this timeless place and I wonder if the tub is deep enough to submerge all the little islands that form as the tub fills. My knees, which, in the landscape of this experience, are small mountains, but are easy to deal with as I can just cross my legs at the ankle to submerge them. But my belly and breasts are always the last to go underwater. However, this is not imperative. Not nearly so important as what I am waiting for.
The hot water rises. My buttocks and back are completely taken care of and incredibly warm. The next stage takes ages. The anticipation is intoxifying. I wait and wait. It seems to take forever.
Slowly the water level rises, the warmth slowly swallowing me.
It is coming, it is coming…
It is now coming up my neck
It is now touching the back of my ears.
Yes! The anticipation escalates. It is coming!
I adjust my position in the bathtub several times.
Can I do this simultaneously? That would be ideal.
I wait. The anticipation is mounting. How long has it been since I have experienced this?
Years, for sure!
Here it comes!
The luscious, hot water creeps up and up
It invades my ear canals - first the left and within a second, the right.
“Oh! My Gaaaaawd!”, I moan, “This is it!! It doesn’t get any better than this!!”
I am taken!
One moment. One moment!!
How can we be held captive by the memory of one single moment?!
I have waited years for this moment.
It takes me a full hour to recover.
Lisa McClendon Sims
May 31st 2017