Bathing Beauty, Roman Decadence

My mother's upstairs bathroom is as close to the Roman baths you can get in the US. It was originally a bedroom. In fact the bathroom is larger than my mother's current bedroom. It has a large tub, and thr oom gets a great deal of natural sunlight. It is also filled with a variety of bubble baths, creams, gels, oils, bath cubes and beads, candles, and large fluffy white towels.

As a child I loved bubble baths, probably because I couldn't have them. Like many female children, bubble baths actually increased my likelihood of developing bladder infections so I had to assuage myself by sitting on the edge of my mother's tub while she soaked. The front of the bubble bath bottle had a lovely woman in blues and greens with flowers in her hair bathing among lily pads. I always wanted to be like that, if only the swamps of CT could be so idyllic and clean and instead of being a haven for skunk cabbage and duck weed. I would sit on the edge of my mother's tub, and I would scoop and blow the bubbles off of my hand, give myself fake beards and horns or attempt to write my name.

Finally when I was old enough to take a bubble bath I enjoyed the priviledge for a while, but soon, with school, there wasn't enough time for a leisurely soak. Later when my parents divorced, the bathtub would have been large enough to give a decadent bath to a large cat, but not even a small girl like myself could really enjoy it.

Since then I haven't been much of a bath person. Partially because, as Eurotrash recently pointed out quite accurately, the baths in New York city are Lilliputian in scale. Even I don't feel that relaxed. And even if the bath tub is a decent size the bathroom isn't. From time to time I have tried to have a soak. Brought in candles, scrubs, bath salts, books, glasses of wine, but I always ended up feeling cramped and showering. Kind of like the Collier brothers trying to bath, if you catch my drift. I kept worrying about things toppling over into the tub, or running out of room the place things. I would try and talk myself into staying the tub longer, but that at point it ceases to be relaxing. After I emerged I find I had only managed to stay in the tub twenty minutes.

But in my mother's bathroom there is the luxury of taking a leisurely bath with a glass of wine and just soaking for hours. No cramping, no interruptions, no answering the phone, no work I should be doing, no book I have to read, no email I have to send back to a student, just pure decadent don't mind me while I shrivel into oblivion soaking. In addition, as she has a variety of different bath salts, gels, oils, I get to regress to being a child and playing with her Verbena salt scrub from L'Occitane or testing her Bliss foot scrub. Or I can just lie back imagining myself to be the Lady of Shallot as I watch the bubbles swirl revealing the water tinted green.

After I soak in hot water for a while, I love to twist the cold water tap with my foot and send a shock of cool water over my legs. I wait for the feeling of coolness to undulate around my ankles and slowly dissipate up by thighs. Slowly the water turns cooler and cooler, soothing my red skin.

When I'm done drying myself off, I get to have more play time with my mother's beauty products. Moisturizer from Clea de Peu And La Mer. Under eye firming gel from Lancome. Rosemary scented energizing after bath oil. I investigate, picking which of the moisturizers I want to try, which has the sweetest scent, the lightest feel. Which of the perfumes has lily of the valley or rose.

When I open the door to the bathroom all that scented steam rushes out in a cloud. I like to think I emerge like Aphrodite in that Botticelli painting. My shoulders are no longer ties in knots, my chicks are pink, my hair lies in wet curls around my face as I reluctantly get dressed.

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