The Shower

…The shower is hot, wet, and smells clean even when there’s no soap. I wear glasses so the shower is also a blind place for me – everything shows up in blurred blobs – is that my shampoo? Where’s the damned body wash? Did he move it? I’m always feeling streaks of skin along my legs, if I bother to shave them, to check if I’m finished shaving. The feeling of a razor against my skin when I’m in such a vulnerable state always feels threatening, the glide of the sharpness against my wet, exposed skin, all while I’m too blind to tell if I’m ripping off a hunk of it until it’s too late. I don’t do quiet showers; I listen to country music almost every time, letting the twang of my childhood fill up and share the room with the steam. I don’t listen to it because it reminds me of home, quite the opposite. I listen to it in spite of it reminding me of home and because I know all the words. I love to sing. I was told I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I don’t believe it because in the shower, I sound just like Mary Chapin Carpenter, if only I strain my voice. And my ear. I let it rip when I belt out “I Take My Chances,” smearing the shampoo all over my scalp and defiantly refusing to worry about it seeping down into my eyes because I take my chances, duh. I like washing my hair. It’s dry, so I don’t do it very often, and when I do, the feeling of my fingers massaging the cool, gelatinous texture of my shampoo into my by-then oily scalp while almost-too-hot water pelts down on the crown of my head takes me away from myself. Getting out of the shower, on the other hand, sucks just as much as leaving the bed a second time. In a hot shower, I can almost sleep standing up…

The Living Room

…My living room now smells heavy with incense, like someone deodorized all the oxygen in the room. The couch I’m sitting on is soft but too low to the ground, and my heaviness always gravitates to the middle so that the overused cushions seem to bend on either side and envelop me. The pills on the cushions bother me. They could be removed with a razor, but the effort required is too much. They’re little blue balls of fuzz all over the yellow cushions so that the cushions look like they have some sort of bizarre furniture pox. The floors are made of wood, but there’s a large rug that takes up most of the space and could be mistaken for carpet by someone not very observant like me. There’s a tightness in my chest now that’s coming from the fear that I’m not doing this right or often enough; Myrtle is squeezing my heart, that bitch. There’s a painting hanging above the 60″ television perched on a wooden entertainment center. I like to watch TV, okay? The painting has always looked out of place to me, like someone cropped out a section of an art museum and copy-pasted it over a picture of our real living room. The room is small and if we don’t open the door in the summers, it gets hot as balls. There’s a Christmas tree in front of the window. It’s June, but we just like it so much we don’t care. The red curtains behind it accidentally add to the festive flair. There’s a coffee table between the Christmas tree and the couch so that one has to contort their body to fit between the two of the three when coming or going. The coffee table is sleek with sharp edges, black, and stuffed with junk that pours out from the narrow storage section on the side…

christmas tree
What’s your living room like? Take ten minutes and describe it using all your senses in the comments!

The Whole Damn House

…The house I grew up in is old. My mom told me one time it was at least 80 years old, and that was at least 20 years ago. It smelled old, but don’t tell Mom because she’ll take it personally. The smell wasn’t of dirt or a symptom of an unkempt house as she would assume, but it was impossible to get rid of, an unrelenting must that seeped into the blankets and pillows, twice as much because most of the extra bedding was stored in a dank corner behind the couch. Parts of the house seemed to lack a decent foundation, particularly the bathroom. The bathroom was the worst, especially in the morning. I remember staying in the shower under the hot water for so long my skin reddened and was dry for the rest of the day just to avoid the inevitable goose-pimples brought on when I opened the shower doors and all the winter air came rushing in. In the spring, the bathroom was warmer but prone to fungus. Multiple times I saw little white mushrooms sprout on a moist bathroom towel positioned around the base of the tub to compensate for a leaky seal. They were gross, repulsive, stigmatic – they made me feel poorer than I was and looking back, still do. They also fascinated me in the grotesque way that humans get fascinated by gross things. I think it was the incongruousness of their white umbrellas against the ordinary, domestic bath towel, blue with fringes on either side. When the shower got going and the room filled with steam, it felt suffocating, nearly dank. But then the washer or dryer would kick in and the whole room would hum with the sound. I would sit on the toilet in my towel taking in the heat and the noise, my ears vibrating and for some reason that made me feel safe. In some ways…

Mushrooms
Put a towel under it!

The Front Porch

…Our front porch is large and spacious, concrete and next to a steep hill overlooking the one-lane road that ran by our house. Mom’s hanging baskets full of flowers hang above every post, and in the evening when she comes to water them, the whole porch smells like a car wash – wet, the sudsy smell replicated by the perfume of the flowers. There’s a swing that hangs toward the back, and mud daubers build their nests in the top of the chains so that when you sit down, a flurry of mud falls in your hair, down across your lap. The springs also make a dangerous creaking sound – not the squeaky sound that says they just need oil, but more like a severe cracking sound that made me think the roof to which the springs were attached was falling in. I get a melancholy feeling when I think about the swing. It’s where I moped during much of my teenage years, sitting in it, rocking back and forth, the wind and the mist from the rain blowing in on my nose and cheeks. The wood was smooth, worn from age, and I would run my fingers along the boards absentmindedly, liking the assurance there were no splinters to look out for. Often, my dogs would come ask for pets while I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself. I would pet their heads, soft beagles and jack-russell terriers who ran the whole night and then lazed on the porch the whole day. They smelled rank, and my hands would always smell just like them when I finally pulled away. You couldn’t leave anything on our front porch – the dogs would chew it up by morning and then come ask for pets as usual, like they’d done you a favor…

Beagle
Seriously, our dog looked just like this. We called him Radler, and he snored so loud we chased him away from the house at night.