I recently had the blessing of spending the weekend with an old high school friend.
The sh** in my life was getting deeper than the manure pile outside the barn, so this old friend extended an invitation to get away from it all for a couple days at her place at the Jersey shore.
And you know what? I took her up on it.
I had seven rides to arrange before I could depart, but that Friday morning the last of them materialized, so I threw some things in a bag and I got in my car and I LEFT.
Up the Jersey Turnpike I drove. Window down, hair blowin'. I might have even been playing some Bruce.
She babied me. She grilled salmon and made Sangria. She took me to the beach and we walked and we talked and we remembered and we shared.
She gave me a book to read. The Art of Resilience. It had helped her through some of life's low points, she said, and she hoped it would help me. It has.
You might be wondering, about now, why the title of this post is The Shower.
Well, I'll tell you. And it does have much to do with the zen of this particular weekend.
On Friday night, Sarah was showing me around her home. She took me to the darling guest room I would be staying in, with its powder blue walls and white bedspread and books lining the walls and covering the dresser. Love.
She showed me the hall bathroom, pretty standard fare, but then she told me that I could shower in the outside shower in the morning.
I looked at the bathroom again. It looked to be in good working order. She as not using the tub for storage, or for the litter box. The shower head and faucets were where they should be.
Maybe she has a busted pipe that needs to be fixed, I thought.
But she went on to say I could shower in the bathroom if I wanted, but that I might prefer the outside shower.
OK, I've been in plenty of outside showers. Anyone who has grown up at the shore has the outside shower experience woven into the fabric of their being. It's as much a part of life as wiping the sand off your feet before swinging your legs into bed.
Outside showers, in my experience, are generally pretty nasty places. They're usually built under the stairs or in some dark corner underneath a house raised on pilings. They are dark and dank, cobwebby and slimy. You never go in barefoot as you're sure to succumb to foot and mouth disease or thrush or some bacterial illness which has eluded the CDC for years.
So again, I thought, what the....?
But whatever. I went to bed that night, slept like a baby, and woke in the morning refreshed as only a night with open windows and salt air can refresh you.
After coffee and a bite to eat, we went for a long bike ride on the beach road and around the lake. Wonderful.
Back at her house, we put the bikes away and she said,
"I'm going to do a little mowing. You can go ahead and get in the shower", gesturing towards the shower like a too-excited Vanna White trying to play it cool.
WTF? I thought. What if I don't WANT to shower in her gd outside bacteria bath? Maybe I want to shower INSIDE like a civilized person!
But not wanting to be rude to this person who was saving my life one weekend at a time, I gathered my clothes, towel, and toiletries, and dutifully walked into the outside shower.
What's this? I thought. It's white. It's full of sunshine. It's CLEAN.
Cautiously, I disrobed, arranged all my things in the ante room, turned on the water, and stepped in.
I had that moment of feeling like I was solving quadratic equations at the blackboard naked in front of 30 10th graders like you always do when you find yourself outside and naked, but after a minute or two it passed and I was left revelling in the glory, without a care of my nakedness.
I looked up and out at the blue sky, and the green of the tree to my left, and marveled as the warmth of the sun mingled with the warmth of the water washing over me.
In short, I had a Clairol Herbal Essences moment. Mixed with a good portion of a Calgon take me away.
It was a religious experience.
When I emerged from the temple clean and fresh, Sarah was just putting her mower away. I strode toward her and reached out to hug her. She began her objections of "I'm all sweaty", but then just "OK..." as I embraced her and said quietly,
"Thank you. Now I know....."