Ah, the glory of a morning shower! Why do I so often not appreciate it? It capsulizes all that is good in this life. Comfort, cleansing, renewal, a fresh start. Not to mention an amusement park for the senses.
I love to start the water out a little hot. Not too hot, that is just uncomfortable. Who wants to feel sweaty in the shower? Just hot enough to soothe the knots out of my muscles. I stand for a minute, letting the hot spray course over my head and letting its tiny fingers work their way into any residual tension in my neck and shoulders. Ah, the neck and shoulders. What a playground. So sensitive to both tension and touch.
The bright, fruity scent of my shampoo fills the steamy rectangle of my shower as I linger over my hair. Just loving it, no judgment. Just the pleasure of scratching lightly, of scrubbing slow circles around my scalp. Who cares if it isn’t as long as I wish it were, or as thick? While in the shower, all I know is the joy of the shampoo’s aroma and caress.
I pause. Shall I use the loofah with its delightful sandy texture slathered with the citrusy gel? Or shall I choose the bright, eye-popping bar of soap with the intimacy of bare hands? I chose the soap today. Its aroma promised hope for an energetic, lively day. When else do I take the time to love this old skin? To touch every inch of it, remind it that it is loved? My whole body responds like a suckling babe to her mamma’s gentle ministrations. Touch doesn’t lie. A body knows when it is being cherished. Mama doesn’t fret over the round belly or dimpled legs of her child. She only delights in the perfection of this miracle creature. So it is in the shower.
I forget expectations, mine or societies. My pleasure in the perfection of who this body is now, in this moment, is all that matters. These strong legs that have walked me through all these years, ran when needed to save my life. The arms that have held and loved so many. The hands that have worked and played, creating a haven for family, preparing dishes with tender attention, filling journals with my heart year after year. My belly, round and scarred from carrying children, lovely in the shower. Each mark like a love tattoo to remind me of the miracle of holding another life within. Helping me to never forget the joy and wonder of this most intimate union. My breasts, no longer what they were but still soft and full, a loving memorial to the life they poured out for a tiny new life.
And this morning, I found something new to admire about my breasts. While washing my feet and preparing to use my little pumice stone, inspiration struck. Needing a third hand to hold the pumice as I changed feet to scrub and massage the other foot, I rested the pumice under my breast and let it hold the pumice for me! Well, now. No one bothered to tell me this little benefit of aging. I laughed out loud in the steamy cube. A third hand! And a forth! It’s what all women need several times a day! What use can I make of this radical discovery in the future? Maybe I’ll take to going topless in my little cottage, the better to take advantage of this extra help. Isn’t nature wise?
I finish my shower with a slow adjustment to increasingly cooler spray until it is as cold as I can bear. This is as close to Hepburn’s famous morning dip in the frigid waters as I will probably ever come, yet I feel a kindred joy in the bracing chill of the water, my mind suddenly alert and my senses shouting for the day.
As I step out and grab for the towel, I almost cry for the pleasure and gratitude I feel. How lucky I am. To be alive, to have this day. To have had this chance to bless this body, faithful through all my abuses and neglect and disdain. To have had this wonder of wonders. A shower.