A HOT BATH

*Written circa 2005-ish in Nashville apartment before I came out.  I would often sit in the baths and stew with the turmoil of being closeted with unmanifested desires.*

The tub is home. If, but for 30 minutes he sits inside a think tank replaying the past, sweating the future, and soaking up the moments of just being. His mind is New York City. Too many actions at once, all a swirl. Where is that button? The one that maintains a frozen order to the mecca of bees zipping to and from too many promising honey trees. He’s never satisfied. He’s got shackles. He’s got strings and no scissors. The drip of the faucet is a consoling conversation. How sad it is. And the same language falls from his cheeks. The ripples of both parallel universes converge and only disappear to meet the unknown.
Home is where the hurt is, h​ e muses.
I want to stay in this water for the rest of my life​, he decides.
I am a numb ragdoll.
I am just a lifesaver floating in the water.​ Funny that, dead yet helpful somehow, haha.
He sat numb in scalding bathwater. He knew that when he got out, areas of his pale, untanned skin would be a deep flush of pinkish red, like a lobster. Lobster feet up to the ankles. Lobster buttocks. Lobster arms. At the moment, that wasn’t of concern. All that mattered was the void between his ears, between his lungs, between his angels and demons. At the moment, nothing felt good, nothing felt bad. It was all jelly broken down into liquid and nullified by the tempature that gripped his body. He stared forward, sunken to the point of his chin barely dipped in the feverish fluid. He concentrated on the desperate escape of each droplet of water from the faucet. He imagined each drop making a huge sound upon impact. A sound of importance and attention. He imagined it and then the thought flushed as quickly as it began.
He leaned his head back against the white tile that surrounded the tub. He stared at the ceiling. For a moment he wished he could mentally shift the bathtub to the center of the room, perfectly aligned with the naked bulb on the ceiling. The bulb and the young man were both naked. One bright, the other dim. The young man sat up, his body rubbed against the bottom causing the tub to belch an unhappy sound. The young man sighed. Blew his lips into a flubbery vibration and sighed again. To his right his washcloth floated like a dead dove. He slowly reached for it and then draped it over his head. All four corners of cloth spat streams down his head. Over brows. over ears. over eyes. Then he reached up and swept the washcloth in an arc over the bridge of his nose and let the cloth cling there warming his forehead. He imagined the cloth as a glorious rainbow trout jumping over him and frozen in midair on his face. His eyes were closed and in his head he felt light. Was it a headrush? That would be nice. A headrush. Blood flowing again. To change the traffic lights to green so the New York City cells could roar and beep and yell thoughts around block after block in his brain. Typically, the headrush came after he stood up from the boiling baptism. That moment of dizziness always delighted him somehow.
A hot bath was a great escape for him. It stopped time and soaked in the pain, the fury, the dreams, the regrets of life. Typically, he stepped into the tub overloaded in weight. Heavy waves of impending confrontations, to do lists, handcuffed secrets. They all were stirring around in head, heart, mind, soul. Shaken up just like those snow globes. Then with one foot bravely planted in the grip of stinging water and then another and the slow descent of full body contact, the snow began to lose its momentum and flake away to the bottom. It began to disolve like sugar stirred into coffee. Making thoughts sweeter and slowly stalling them.
Questions rattled off as he would dip his cloth in for its first taste of wetness. What am I doing here?

Why am I worthless? When will I come clean with all this shit that keeps tormenting me? Why do I keep on failing to get a foothold on finances and a career? Why am I riding a motorcycle round and round the same small neighborhood? Why am I shy and afraid? What does my past mean? What is my purpose? and then slowly, the water would grip everything in the heat and the whirring motor of question marks puttered out… and all was quiet….all was nothing…. he sat numb in scalding bathwater….contemplating everything and nothing at the same time.

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