I simply wanted to take a bath.
Not a shower where I would have to do all the work, but a bath.
A bubble bath.
The kind where the water is almost to the rim of the tub and it’s hot and the bubbles are soft and you slide slide slide into the slink until you exhale the breath of letting it all go.
Tonight the cosmos shifted for a brief moment and suddenly there were no children in the house. Whisked away, they were, to some other universe. Now let me say this about children, even on- the- cusp- of- adulthood children: When they are present, a mother is also present. With, to and for them. This is as it should be, the sweet privilege of Being There.
This night, though, I did not have to be anywhere or be anything.
The husband had retired early and I was left.
I was okay with this.
I’d spent the better part of the day outside pruning and weeding. The pebbled space near the foundation of the house had been taken over by crabgrass.
For hours the back was spent bent doing the low work of yanking and pulling stubborness lodged in dirt.
Later I worked under one of the maples, its base in a shambles of fallen over lilies having bloomed a month early and now in mid-August looking October tired. I bent again with shovel and rake and dirtied myself up in good shape.
When the house went quiet, I saw my feet were not fit for the fresh sheets I’d put on the bed, so I decided a bath was the best remedy.
My sister had recently given me some bubble bath for my birthday and I was looking forward to trying it.
I pushed the tub faucet all the way to hot, released the bubbles into the waterfall and shed my gardening clothes.
I stepped into the tub and let myself down down down into the white froth and laid back and suddenly realized I needed something to rest my head.
I pushed my weary self up and reached, dripping, for the purple towel, thick like a pillow and quickly jumped back into the water.
Folding the towel proved difficult for some reason and I twisted in the water to try and position it without getting it wet. Once I got it where I needed it for maximum comfort I reached over the rim and felt for the book I’d left on the floor. I managed to pluck it with two fingers and bring it up over the tub’s edge.
Settling my head, I opened the book.
I waited. I shifted and slid deeper into the water. It wasn’t comfortable. Where was the bubble bath bliss I’m supposed to be experiencing, I wondered.
I shifted again. This is when I realized I’d lost…. padding. My built in backside cushion had somehow deflated. Is this normal?
I decided not to think about it and commenced reading. The words were a blur.
I need glasses to read.
They’d been left on the sink.
I dropped my book on the floor, rose slowly for the second time and with one leg, stepped over the edge of the tub and tried to reach for the glasses with the least amount of dripping possible which meant I was doing an Olympic caliber split, naked and without padding. I quickly came to my senses and decided it would be better for me, my husband and the emergency room attendant if I just walked over to the sink. Pools of water on the floor can be mopped.
Back into the tub I went only to find the big purple towel fat and floating, much of the tub water receded into its purpleness.
Standing knee deep in bubbles, I attempted to wring out the towel, fold what had become a five pound purple blob and repositioned my ever-decreasing padded self, bones and all, back into place.
The water was lukewarm.
I sat up to turn the faucet on for more hot water and heard the sound of something weighted sliding into the water.
The purple towel blob.
It was at that moment something came from the deep recesses of my mother brain and reminded me that I do not possess bubble bath skills.
When the children were little we lived in a little house. The bathroom was little, too, and built into a loft and the roof line wasn’t tall enough for a shower.
With five small children I learned the Art of the Three Minute Bath. I could wash my entire body and my hair, plus shave my legs, in the time it took a normal person to brush their teeth.
It wasn’t like I had a choice. I knew from hard-learned experience I couldn’t risk the children deciding to play Barber Shop by giving each other haircuts or give them time to wonder what the kitchen cupboards would look like painted with a coat of peanut butter. The only other alternative was to stay dirty for the next ten years, but I am a prideful and vain woman and I couldn’t handle the eccentricity.
I pulled the plug.
I put the water splashed book on the rug, placed my glasses on the edge of the tub and rose slowly for the third time.
The purple blob sank back into the frothy mix.
I toweled and realized I never actually washed.
So much for soaking the dirt and grime of the day away.
My feet were pristine.
Two pretty little things;
fresh and pinked up on the white rug.
I was reminded of Jesus’ words to Peter that if the feet are clean, then the whole body is clean. I am totally overspiritualizing, but I decided then and there since my feet looked so good, I was clean enough for one night.
I wrung out the purple blob one last time and cast it into the utter darkness of the washing machine abyss.
Bubble bath skills or not, I have dominion over the purple towel.