I’ve been living out of my new — as of May — trailer almost exclusively for 12 weeks. That’s about 85 days.
There are lots 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 clothing, and Wi-Fi.
But the most surprising to me? I take great enjoyment — delight, actually — in other people’s showers.
This sounds so creepy, but let me explain how I first discovered it.
The scene was late May of this year, the new trailer still shiny and novel. My husband and I were in our first week of navigating this new way of life together, and our itinerary included a haul from New Mexico to Colorado. We had an invitation to stay the night in a briefly-vacant vacation rental in southern Colorado, and we decided to simply unhitch and set up camp in the driveway. It happens like this a lot, where someone will offer a place to sleep but it actually turns out it’s easiest for us to simply camp out of the little trailer, which has everything we need.
Still — an indoor shower beats our dinky little trailer shower any day, especially after days spent dousing ourselves in sunscreen and then tromping around in the dusty desert Southwest. Upon arrival, I packed a little bag of toiletries and clean clothing from the trailer and went inside.
Inside was as cool and still as outside was sun-baked and rustling in the wind. My bare feet met tile flooring in small, slight slaps that echoed subtly in the entry way as I walked slowly around to take it all in.
It wasn’t that the home was enormous, but it was much more open and grand than our little trailer. As a vacation rental, the interior was carefully curated with a blanket draped here; a remote control for the TV placed there.
It was impeccably clean. Unlike me.
I found myself treading carefully as I walked through the home to locate the shower, trying not to brush against any upholstery lest I somehow leave a dust stain, or to touch a surface so as to not leave sunscreen paw prints. I was a feral person who had been out in the world kicking and running against its many trails, trees, and bushes and now needed to remember what it was like to be indoors.
I love feeling steeped in the outside, particularly in that corner of the world. But I also relish the feeling of washing it all away.
The shower was a standalone room with terra cotta colored tiles and benches, with a broad-faced silver showerhead arced gracefully over its center. I carefully removed and folded my dirty clothing, placing it on a bathroom counter away from any water where it could get muddy and leave a trace, and pulled myself and my toiletries into the shower “room,” closing the glass door behind me.
What followed was nothing short of magical.
The hot water immediately steamed the room; the pressure was perfect. I was warmed completely but not hot, and I sudsed and soaped everything away, watching the rivulets of dried mud on my ankles first darken and then slowly rinse away.
I stood there for a few minutes longer than I needed to, feeling the simple sensation of water on my forehead and hair and blinking to see how the light came in the room and illuminated droplets and steam. It was a feeling of pure stillness, awe, and gratitude.
I have never felt anything like that in the shower.
What clicked in for me in that moment was realizing this wasn’t the first time during the trip I’d had this kind of experience — it’s just this particular shower was the most objectively grand, so it was easiest to fully appreciate. I’d taken a shower in Minnesota at a friend’s house that felt just as good, and enjoyed the fluffiness of their towels after. In Cincinnati, the sandalwood and vanilla soaps offered by my friend were unlike anything I’d ever buy for myself, but amazing — and the bright red towels against white walls and countertop made for a cheery yet cozy feel. Later on, in Reno, I’d wash away a big day of trail running under hot, pressurized water and feel a woozy sense of pure gratitude that almost eclipsed what I’d felt on the run itself.
When it’s my shower, I use it frequently. I’m used to the pressure. I have to clean it, so I notice when it’s getting less clean. My towels are fine but nothing novel; my soaps are — honestly — whatever I scrounge up and throw into 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 curate, keep clean, and are such a routine part of their every day at a time when my every day is just smaller, more finite, and — let’s be honest — simply a little less clean? These places are brief, magical little getaways for me; windows into 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 might otherwise.