Being stuck inside the house during the recent stay-at-home orders, I have had the luxury of extra time. Time seems to have slowed down to a snail pace in contrast to our busy contemporary society. People coming, people going. Even the numbers of cars on the road have dwindled, and with many “essential” stores closing early, the town looks much like it did when I was a young girl. For the most part, most neighborhood stores were closed in the evenings when I was little until the “Big Box” stores opened. That changed a lot. The days of relaxing at home after dinner were replaced by errands, drive-through pharmacies, or take out orders some time after that in many homes. In those older days, many people used after dinner time for baths for both hygiene and relaxation.
I used to take a bubble bath at least weekly, in addition to my daily shower, until a few years ago. There was always something selfishly indulgent about carving out a half hour all to myself, letting myself enjoy the moment of solitude in the bath among scented bubble baths. Tonight I decided I would steal away some time to get back into the habit of the weekly bath. I remember when I was youn, putting my head underwater so that my ears were submerged for a period of time while my nose was above the water. Resting like this, I could close my eyes and actually hear the sound of my breathing and maybe even the sound of my heart among the solitude under water. If you are short like I am, you might still be able to submerge most of your body, except the tops of your kneees, under water. Sometimes I would take a book into the bathtub and rest it on my bath caddy that sat in front of me while I soaked. Sometimes I would take a cup of hot tea or a cool beverage as well.
Tonight, I dipped into the warm tub after turning the lights on low with some candles around the room, on the counter and along the sides of the tub. I put on some relaxing classical music, and I soaked with my head under water, except my nose, for a period of time, enjoying those stolen moments all to myself. There is nothing like the peace I feel when I hear my breathing underwater, along with the sights of the calm candlelight and scented bubbles.
After my bath during which I allowed myself to think about nothing, absolutely nothing, I began to consider the history of baths in this country and how now they are considered almost obsolete. New homes are built mostly with tiled showers instead of bathtubs. There may be ONE bathtub in a home now, where there used to be bathtubs in every full bathroom. Such a pity.
When the Pilgrims arrived in America, according to History.com, they were not accustomed to bathing regularly. They thought that submerging their whole body in the water was somehow unhealthy and immodest. In fact, History.com suggests, ” “The idea of being clean wasn’t closely associated with water in the 17th century anywhere in the western world.” Bath houses became a place for the wealthy for medicinal cures or as a place socializing. Of course, in ancient times, the bath was important for socializing among people of all classes, and there is evidence of baths in the homes of the more affluent citizens of Ancient Rome.
While coping with self-isolation, why not dip into your own bathtub again for a few indulgent moments. Put on your favorite music, take a beverage or a book, maybe light some candles and reduce your stress with some time put aside just for you.
“Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath ‘long about a Saturday night
A rub dub, just relaxing in the tub, thinkin’ everything was all right
Well, I stepped out the tub, put my feet on the floor
I wrapped the towel around me and I opened the door
And then a splish splash, I jumped back in the bath…..”
-“Splish Splash” by Bobby Darin, 1958
I am grateful for the luxury of extra time that these stay at home orders have given me and plan to enjoy these extra hours while I can. Life is good; carpe diem, friends………..