Everybody always said that when you live in NY, you have to get away to the country sometimes to just decompress and turn the valve off on the constancy for a few…so you can keep going. I always thought: get over it. Go to dinner. Stay home. Check out for a second.
But then I got in the bath.
My friend Andrea invited me to the country because she could tell I was one of those people who need to leave the city but don’t know it. We pulled up to the renovated church house, pressing the hollow echo of rental car plastic into the overgrown bamboo invading the driveway. I pried my door open, holding back the supple, swaying army of shoots. They gifted my cheeks with cool, wet fingertips, left over from the flooding all day.
We went inside the church — now a house — and I stopped my speech. Had i been talking? Had I been caught in an endless interior monologue and didn’t even know it? There was so much space in the room. I could hear just the air. As I stood in my stupor, Andrea drew me a bath.
The last bath I remember was when I was in the single digits and new to real bathtubs. My older sister was putting me in the ½ full tub and I wanted to leave my socks on. She let me play out the experiment, which I didn’t immediately regret.
The bathtub out here in the country is almost big enough for me to feel like I belong in it. When I stepped into the room, the steam rising off the water’s surface and the hollow, clunking sound from the faucet greeted me like the setup for a Cinemax pre-sex, lady getting ready for a date in her lingerie movie and it made me laugh.
The first step into the water, my skin grabbed it. It pulled the heat into me like tight Saran Wrap. Slowly lowering into a hot bath is like squeezing through a rubber band. From cool air on skin to the weighty embrace compacted into the tub.
I discovered Andrea had put bath salts into the mix and I remember what it is to crunch your feet against them. It’s the dive to the bottom of a swimming pool to find a set of keys. Its swimming over coral in the ocean. As I sat on the bottom, I smelled the perfume vine its way along the humidity from the surface.
Water asks you to get lower, to succumb.
My perfect place is when my head floats just below the surface and my nose and mouth make an island just above. The bones of my skull released their grip just enough, expanding sideways. The perfect sound is right there, like being on the other side of a door in the machine room of a submarine. And what is cleaner than the cool, wet air from above entering my lungs? Everything in me at this moment says “yes”.
It was at this moment I realized that living in a city requires a certain high vibration even in the restful moments. This was the first time since moving there that I felt it turn down for a moment and it became a certain kind of food. I was filling up, imaging what oxygen is doing inside when I hold my breath. I could imagine the act of replenishing as a real and active endeavor.
I accidentally rolled over against the drain and it began to slurp. I decided to let it happen, staying still in the tub until it was fully empty, sitting low in the quiet as the air dried me. I felt more than clean.