If I sink down low enough in the bath and close my eyes, it’s a room of my own. My mother used to bathe every night and I wonder if it was because, with the exception of Bridge Night, my dad was home all the time. My feet are often sore these days from pacing around the neighborhood, crossing the street when anyone approaches. I don’t know what day we’re on of Sheltering In Place. I’m not counting. I don’t remember anything anymore. I like scooping up bubbles with my toes.
It is warm outside, but I’m going in the bath anyway. Thai food has been ordered and I have forty minutes. I make myself a vodka with lime, close the bathroom door behind me, and crack open the window.
I step into the hot water. My drink rests on the windowsill, amidst the collection of rubber duckies passed down from my French cousin, and several My Little Ponies I once found on the street. In the bath I like to style the ponies’ hair. Tiny purple and pink fishtails.
We live off a public stairwell which is normally empty. But these quarantined days, San Franciscans are seeking less populated pockets of the city to roam, and our stairwell seems to be one of them. Fitness junkies are using it as a gym, and children are sliding down banisters. Pedestrians think they’re alone when, in fact, mere meters away, a naked middle-aged woman is massaging her feet and talking to ducks.
Tonight, a family walks by speaking a language that must be Portuguese because at first it sounds like Spanish, and then French, but is neither. The mother sounds frustrated, and a boy is whining. Soon I hear, “Alaska, come on. Come here Alaska.” I can picture this husky and its friendly blond owner, because we once met at the local dog park. I think she has twin preschoolers.
I start humming the song “Through The Wall” by an 80’s a cappella group called The Bobs. I hear you in the morning shower. How can you sing that song at that hour?
I hear a plane overhead and then footsteps on the stairs. A man’s voice says, “It is feeling powerless that is the hardest. I still want to drink but my pattern is that it won’t end well.” I think that he must be on the phone because I don’t hear a response. I take a sip of vodka and sink lower into the water. “Trust me, you can get through this. I’ve been sober for two years now.” I return my glass to the windowsill and look down at my legs. Stray hairs stand at attention on my kneecaps. On my thigh is a new purple vein in the shape of a tiny bass clef.
The hardest part is not knowing when anything is going to end.