Image Source: Public Domain Pictures
I start by removing my shirt and dropping my phone on the counter near the sink. It’s really hot during the summer and I hate wearing shorts, so every time I go outside it’s like I’m walking in a huge furnace. When I go into the privacy of my own home and my own bathroom, the freedom of being able to shed all my clothes feels incredible. Here, there are none to judge me, none to dress up for. I’m not very muscular and I’m not very tall, but I don’t care about that myself. Here, I’m free to be happy with myself. My legs finally breathe air, and I finally feel smooth skin instead of ragged jeans. I’m not ashamed of my body.
This place has become a sort of sanctuary, a place for me to perform my evening ritual: a long, refreshing bath with warm water running down my back. I throw my clothes into the corner, step into the shower and turn the knob. I step away from the showerhead’s aim, since the initial burst is always freezing cold. The perks of living so high up on the globe. I then put my hand under the stream and feel it get warmer and warmer, until I’m satisfied enough to stand right in the middle of it. I instinctively smile at the first time my dry skin feels the refreshing water run down my chest.
I’ve always loved the water. As a child, my favorite toy was a plastic shark and I often dreamt of swimming down the depths of the ocean, discovering with every layer a different kind of creature that called the neverending sea its home. The blue that envelops the Earth is another world entirely, harboring millions of strange inhabitants. When I was submerged deep in a pool, I felt a sense of freedom I had never felt before on the surface. I could swim anywhere, flip around and do acrobatics I never could have done with gravity pulling at my heels. When I swam close to the ground, avoiding the people standing up, I felt like a shark, quickly and narrowly avoiding the obstacles around me. For some time, I was a shark and they were nothing but algae.
When I shower, I’m getting a sliver of that feeling. When the warm water courses down my chest, my back, my arms and my fingers, I’m bringing a little bit of that freedom to the comfort of my home. Here, I don’t need to hold my breath. My usually thick, messy hair relaxes when wet and flows off my head to mimic the water that courses through it.
The other thing the shower gives me is free time. Time to think, time to plan, time to daydream, time to practice, time to sing. I don’t think I sing particularly well, but that’s why I do it in the shower. No one around to embarrass yourself in front of, no one around to judge you for trying. I also have time here to practice anything I want to. Oral presentation in front of the class tomorrow? Time to make sure I know my stuff. Going to make a move on that girl I’ve been ogling at for the past month? Time to practice my moves. Alternatively, this place allows me to daydream. It’s the only place where I can pretend to shoot aliens and thrust my knee into someone’s nose. The only place where the child inside me can break free at last. I like to create stories here, since the water has a way to clear my thoughts.
However, I am still a person, meaning my skin is still sensitive to water that hot and I still have other responsibilities. I can tell because I can see the mirror fog up and it gets hard to breathe. Unfortunately, I must leave this place and go on with my day. Too much good is bad. I step out of the shower and dry myself with a towel, making sure to shake my hair thoroughly so no water stays in it. When I put some new clothes on and brush my now smooth hair in front of the mirror, I smile again because I feel refreshed. I am once again invigorated and energetic enough to do whatever I please. The water has freed me.
Such is the power of the shower.
Originally Published in Bandersnatch Vol. 48 Issue 02 on September 26, 2018