The airport hotel in Santiago had all mod cons, including an en-suite bathroom,
with bath. I was very excited about this bath, but as I went to close the curtains
at the window so I could waltz around naked between bath and bed (huge, double,
to be occupied fully alone, about which I was also very excited), I spied a
Swimming Pool outside. It was only 1am, a very reasonable time for a swim, considering
how long I had gone without one, I thought, but the concierge clearly thought
I was mad when I appeared in the lobby in bikini and sarong.
Oh, that first splash! Water all around me. And in a bikini, outside! I splashed
around like a six-year-old. But the best bit was if I floated on my back and
looked at the stars. Orion was there, smiling down on me, and I was happy to
know that Halley wasn’t so far away after all. (My favourite time is still star
time, the place I can escape to when the world all gets a bit too ridiculous.)
The bath was good, but not up to expectations. No bubbles, and I had to hold
my legs in the air in order to lie properly down. Far too short.
Expectations, another thing I’ve realised. The things I was most looking forward
to: baths, mangoes, carrots, wine, etc etc, were all of their absolute finest
in my imagination, and often first attempts did not live up to standard. But
My second bath was in Buenos Aires. This was much better. Still too short,
but in an old ceramic tub with cracked tiles, in an ancient hotel with a story
to tell. I didn’t realise, but I had missed history. Every year, a new Halley
is created by a new layer of snow. I love that. But history… In Santiago I
found myself drawn inside an ancient cathedral: dark, old, so many stories.
A queue for confession with the smiling priest. If I spoke Spanish, I would
have gone to him myself. Religion. Now there’s something I hadn’t experienced
for a while. I left out of a different door to the one I entered, and for the
next two hours walked west and north, right off the tourist map, when I had
intended to go north and east, into the center of town.
The next day, I discovered markets. And then, overwhelmed by bustle, smells,
colours and people, escaped to the massive park, with a mango. I am pleased
to report that the mango lived up to expectations. (I find myself going out
of my way to walk past flower stalls: the smell, downwind, so entrancing and
novel. Especially if there are fresias on sale.)
My third bath was on the lush island of Waiheke in New Zealand. After a 14-hour
plane journey, the chaos of commuting, and sensory overload of a hundred colours
of green in the rainforest, I yearned to submerge myself into steamy oblivion.
The water was brown and smelled of mud. I later discovered the only water source
was from rain, and the tank was low. Oops. From then on, I reverted to Halley
showers. The bath was good, though, a kid obviously lived in the house, so I
felt happy splashing about, and the wonderful comforts of a real home seemed
to surround and await me.
The next baths, if you can call them that, were in the sea, and I floated for
many days in the water, with endless boundaries. The sea. Swimming in the sea.
Salt. I have missed the sea.
I had my fourth bath of the year, in a motel in Dargaville, a town that lived
up to every stereotype that the name suggests. Nothing to report, except the
spa. With my toes touching one end, I could stretch out, under water, as far
as my neck. What it lacked in history, it compensated a hundred times in size.
And bubbles of air. Yes, at last, a bath up to my expectations.
I now write to you from Sydney. My friends left me in their house for the weekend
while they go to a wedding and I get to be entartained by my brother. Their
bath, though tiny, was the best yet. Porcelain, chipped, lemon verbena bubble
bath, miaowing cat, cup of tea and book not far away. While Felix is hurrying
with the rush to do nothing all day, a phenomenon most New Yorkers apparrantly
struggle with for atleast a week, I still need a couple of hours to build up
to the idea of leaving the front door. He amuses me with his entanglement of
media contraptions and the constant demands that they place on him while he
laughs when I speak the first thing that pops out of my brain, independant of
tact, timing or relevance to anything. We make a good team… and it’s wonderful
to see him. Ultimately, the only thing I have really missed is the people who
know me best and who I love the most.