I still pray in the bath. Out of habit now, not out of necessity. Once a place becomes a shrine it stays that way forever.
Besides, if you’re going to take a plunge this deep, you may as well start in the tub.
When my shift ended, I’d dash home from the bus stop in snow boots, the temp hovering near zero as I raced for hot water. If I could get there, I could get through it.
Walk in the door, throw off the boots and go. That’s how it went. To the kitchen, the bath, the couch. In that order. Those were the days when tea made everything better. Returning home, the kettle always came first. The blue ceramic one that belonged to Grandma. Inevitably, it dripped onto the gas burner, letting off a crisp, flame-broiled sound like someone flipping burgers. Even so, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it.
Peppermint or chamomile, cinnamon or spice, the tea was as integral to this ritual as the water itself. Evenings were about steeping, through and through. One was for the mind, the other for the body.
All those excruciating nights, the muscle aches too much to bear on top of everything else. With the steam drifting like hot springs, there I’d be, fully immersed in a baptism that was as blessed as it was cruel. So much more than a lathering of the body, bath time became a cleansing of the spirit. A washing away of the insurmountable as I prayed the only words there were to say. “Thank you, God,” and “Please, God, get me through this.”
A thousand times over I prayed them, day after day until I felt the healing.
In the bath I mustered the courage to run toward the pain. To dive as deep into that ocean as the heart dares to go. If you want to free yourself from anything, take that plunge. For so long, I endured silently, as if it were the brave thing to do. Now I know. Enduring is waiting to die. As if the hunt for answers made me noble. I’ll tell you what’s noble. Turning the lens inward. Sourcing the answers from yourself.
The answers are in us. The New Girl taught me that. You could look at it and say so much was wasted. Nothing was wasted. So many lessons, such deep immersion. I had to become brave enough not to care.
I was always going to be the one to figure it out. As the youngest, the sickest, the strongest, it had to be me. Astute observers will feel themselves hiding in plain sight and realize I am too.
I still pray in the bath. Even now, after everything.
Looking back, it feels like it happened to someone else. As if it were a movie I watched or a dream I had. I can’t wrap my head around it. By now I’ve stopped trying.
Do you get something for nothing in this life?
I don’t think so. Not this much.
So with arms and eyes raised toward the shower head, I listened.
For a long time.
Then I promised to do my part.
This is my part.