I live off my new trailer – starting in May – almost exclusively for 12 weeks. It’s about 85 days.
There are a lot of things that I appreciate more now that I have limited access to them. This list includes washing machines, frozen fruit for smoothies, a spacious place to store my Xtratufs/wet clothes, and Wi-Fi.
But the most surprising for me? I take great pleasure in – I actually relish – other people’s showers.
It sounds so scary, but let me explain how I first found out about it.
The scene was late May this year, the new trailer still bright and fresh. My husband and I were in our first week of navigating this new way of life together, and our itinerary included a drive from New Mexico to Colorado. We got an invitation to spend the night at a briefly vacant vacation rental in southern Colorado, and we decided to just pick up the phone and set up camp in the driveway. It often happens like this, where someone will suggest a place to sleep, but it actually turns out that it’s easier for us to just camp outside the little trailer, which has everything we need need.
Still, an indoor shower beats our shabby little trailer shower any day, especially after days of dousing ourselves in sunscreen and then rambling through the dusty desert Southwest. When I arrived, I packed a small bag of toiletries and clean clothes from the caravan and went inside.
The interior was as cool and calm as the exterior was scorched by the sun and rustling in the wind. My bare feet met the tiled floor in small, light smacks that subtly echoed through the entryway as I slowly walked around taking it all in.
It wasn’t that the house was huge, but it was much more open and grand than our little trailer. As a vacation rental, the interior has been carefully appointed with a draped blanket here; a remote control for the TV placed there.
It was spotlessly clean. Unlike me.
I found myself treading carefully as I walked around the house to locate the shower, trying not to brush against upholstery lest I leave a dust spot or touch a surface so as not to leave fingerprints of sunscreen paws. I was a wild person who had been in the world kicking and running against its many paths, trees and bushes and now needed to remember what it was like to be inside .
I like to feel imbued with the outdoors, especially in this corner of the world. But I also savor the feeling of washing everything away.
The shower was a freestanding piece with terracotta-colored tiles and benches, with a wide-faced silver showerhead arching gracefully above its center. I carefully removed and folded my dirty clothes, placing them on a bathroom counter away from any water where they might get muddy and streaky, and pulled myself with my toiletries into the “shower room. closing the glass door behind me.
What followed was simply magical.
The hot water immediately vaporized the room; the pressure was perfect. I was fully warmed up but not hot, and lathered and soaped everything, watching the rivulets of dried mud on my ankles first darken and then slowly rinse away.
I stood there a few minutes longer than necessary, feeling the mere sensation of water on my forehead and hair and blinking to see how the light streamed into the room and illuminated the droplets and steam. It was a feeling of pure stillness, awe and gratitude.
I have never felt anything like this in the shower.
What struck me at that moment was that I realized that it wasn’t the first time during the trip that I had this kind of experience – it’s just that this shower in particular was the most objectively grand, so it was easier to fully appreciate. I had showered in Minnesota at a friend’s house who felt just as good, and then enjoyed the fluffiness of their towels. In Cincinnati, the sandalwood and vanilla soaps offered by my friend were like nothing I would buy for myself, but amazing – and the bright red towels against the white walls and counter created an atmosphere happy but comfortable. Later, in Reno, I would wash away a big day of racing under hot water pressure and feel a feeling of pure gratitude that would almost eclipse what I had felt during the race itself.
When it’s my shower, I use it frequently. I’m used to pressure. I have to clean it, so I notice when it gets less clean. My towels are fine but nothing new; my soaps are – honestly – everything I scrounge and throw in the shower. It’s just not where I end up putting a lot of focus in my life.
But other people’s showers? The showers they organize, keep clean and part of their daily life at a time when my daily life is just smaller, more finite and – let’s be honest – just a little less clean? These places are short and magical getaways for me; windows to something else and a visceral experience of joy. I don’t want to live there. But I appreciate it so much more fully than I otherwise would.