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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's in a Bathroom? Tableau Day 4






It's always an adventure to live in VT in the winter. This morning, after a near record breaking snow storm yesterday, I jumped in to the shower, my transition between yoga and work, to find a chilly reception. No hot water. Determined to 'take a shower' I put several layers of clothes back on to stay warm while I proceeded to boil pots of water. A European, or more appropriately a New England 19th century bath was my only option.
As I waited for water to boil, I went back in to the bathroom and decided to curate my soap collection. I know that may sound strange but I have a thing for soaps, soap boxes and wrappings and colors and I need to see them. No putting them away in a closet for me. I display my soaps like a shrine in a Mexican tin glass front box, found at a local flea market, that I lined with decorative paper. I take my soap seriously. It has to be natural, no perfumes or dyes, and full of rich organic ingredients that sound like something I'd rather be eating than bathing with, like olive oil, cinnamon and coconut. I want to be transported through my sense of smell when I'm in the shower, to other places, like warm tropical islands. This is an essential part of the mind game that I play with myself to get me through the winter.
While I was busy arranging soap and preparing for a cold sink bath I was transported through memory to a trip to England 20 years ago when I arrived at a friend's house in Kenilworth. After hours of travel in taxis, planes, trains and double decker bus to meet up with her I wanted a hot bath to wash away the day. I noticed the look of concern that crossed her face and that of her mother but I had no reference for it so I proceeded to the bathroom to take a bath. After filling the tub a couple of inches the water went ice cold. I sat there in those two inches of water and almost cried. My friend, who had spent some time in the states, understood that I might be struggling with the circumstances and had already 'put on the kettle'. What followed for the next 20 mins or more was a bustling parade of mother and daughter running up and down the stairs to deliver me kettles and pots of hot water, as if I were the queen, to give me the proper American bath that I took for granted every day. This was one of my first experiences with what we term today as 'cultural competency'. I was young and it never occurred to me that a hot bath was a luxury to some and entire families living on the dole never indulged in such pleasure. Needless to say that was the only tub bath I had for an entire month while traveing through England and France and it's now a romantic memory that I cherish of a carefree time. Thanks to that snow storm that shut down my hot water heater I got to walk down my memory lane and remember a very special time in my life.
Armed with my essential oil bee pollen soap and my Rosa Mosqueta facial cleanser I bravely marched back to the kitchen and took my sink bath in total puritan fashion,
just before the gas service man knocked at my kitchen door.

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