The Bath

This is my body in the bath.  Outside flows the Seine and I am being reborn in this French water.  Like Proust said, we writers are all searching for our lost childhoods. I searched for Proust’s gravestone at Pere Lachaise yesterday, but I couldn’t find it.  I came here once as a child.  I remember the important things.  I came with my family.  Now I have come alone.  At home, I have a black antique rocking chair beside the black and white bathtub for guests to sit in and talk to me or read to me or draw me while I am taking a bath.  For the first three years of my life I lived in houses without showers.  My first shower was at a school with my mother, and I remember how the pounding water terrified me, hissing and  hitting me hard and spitting at me in the face and reddening my pale skin.  We lived in a house without running water where the Pacific ocean tide lapped our doorstep twice a day.  There is only one moon, but two tides.  The moon shone down in France and pulled the water half a world away.  People living on the Atlantic have always been civilized . . . the Pacificans always wild and unknown.  As a nine-year old in Paris, I wore my wild long Hawaiian hair and psychedelic pantsuits.  All French babies awaken in water . . . the bath . . . a transition between sleeping and waking in life and at the ends of the day.  How European—the sound of clear water pouring into the silent white morning.  The bathrooms in my old houses all have had windows so I can lie back and gaze upon green; and once I found an old clawfoot tub and dragged it home on top of a skateboard and put it in the center of the garden and filled it with water from the garden hose and sat in it on hot summer days.  My French teacher asked if there was any particular French phrase that I especially wanted to know before I went to France.  I wanted to know how to ask for, “a room with a bathtub.”  I love the movie, As Good as it Gets, when the anti-heroine begins her bath and the anti-hero sees her bare shoulders and remembers how to draw and draws her all night long.

He said he wants to return to figure drawing.  The chair waits.  I made love to him only once before—after the rain, and cold and wet we disrobed and climbed into the steamy bath and made love.  And now we have a penchant for walking in the rain. He surprised me when he began speaking in French—the utterly wild-haired Mediterranean-skinned Pacific boy of Mayan temples parlaying avec moi.  He parlays my lips.  The water pours.  Avez-vous une chambre avec une baignoire?

© Rebecca Morrison

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One thought on “The Bath

  1. Regarding Proust, have you ever read Maurice Merleau-Ponty? He was the first (perhaps the only one) who said child psychology was essential to philosophy, that how we see the world (as a whole gestalt) comes from how we learn to interpret and anticipate the world in early childhood. This “blew the minds” of the existentialists. He also said that individual consciousness was like a “fold” in the fabric of the world – like a crumpled piece of cloth. It stays awhile and becomes “us,” but eventually smoothes out again and is always part of the larger tapestry. Consciousness and the world is “cross-stitched.” Love that metaphor, that imagery. He also said that philosophy should embrace ambiguity. We can never go from ignorance to certainty because the “thread” of the inquiry is itself the problem – always leads back to ignorance again (very Zen). . .

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