I got frustrated yesterday. I know part of buying a new house is being patient, but what about when you don’t feel like being patient? By mid-day yesterday, I had finished painting the kitchen, the pantry, and the upstairs bathroom, and there was nothing else for me to do. There was tons for me to do, but I couldn’t do any of it. Before I can work on anything downstairs, the wall has to be torn apart. Before I can work on anything else upstairs, we have to finish the downstairs. Anything else I do feels like I’m playing a game of musical boxes. I have moved the same boxes into the kitchen and out of it four times. I have moved the bathroom shelf into and out of the bathroom four times. In the bathroom, the walls are now Shimmer Green and instead of vacuuming the debris out of all the registers (which Luke kindly suggested when he noticed my listlessness), I filled a glass of wine and I filled the tub and I slunk under the water where everything feels safe and close and thoughtful.
This was one of my foremost requirements of a home: it needed a bathtub. This, though, like everything in an older home, is also a problem. It’s a clawfoot tub with antique fixtures, which means there’s nowhere to buy a curtain rod or showerhead holder without ordering one online or paying a thousand dollars at a specialty store for a few arms of metal.
I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond yesterday because when I searched for clawfoot fixtures online, it looked like they might have what I need. When I got there, the woman at Customer Service told me to go to the bathroom department and wait. She then called for assistance over the intercom. In the bathroom department, I couldn’t decide where to stand; stand in the aisle where they could confuse me with any other customer, or stand inside the maze of bathroom gadgets where I might not be found. When the employee finally came, she wanted to be helpful, but I had trouble articulating what exactly our tub is missing. It turns out that when I have to ask for help, I don’t have the right words for all the things we need.
Luckily, we do have a “telephone showerhead,” which is what I told the lady at BB&B (where is the “Beyond” in Bed, Bath, &Beyond?), although she gave me a funny look. This is what my brothers and I used to call the showerhead in Kentucky when we went to a convent during the summers to fish and pray and eat food on cafeteria plates. The guesthouse there had a clawfoot tub and a showerhead you could detach from its cradle and hold up to your ear or sprinkle over your shoulders for a self-given massage. This is where my love of baths and old houses began, I think—the personality of the odd fixture, the creaky conversation of floorboards in a home that knows more than its inhabitants.
For the time being, we shower by crouching down below where the curtains end. It’s awkward, but it beats traipsing all the way downstairs to the upright shower past the small piles of dirt from the nice guy, Nate, in a beard and bandana, who carried an entire truckload of concrete and wood up from the crawl space and damaged floor in the basement. The green in the upstairs bathroom was a nice choice. It looks like the green sherbet that floats around in a party bowl, and that’s what it feels like to be in the tub up there. A calm little island of melting.