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Shower to Shower

When my siblings and I were teenagers, our mother implemented a three-minute shower rule to preserve hot water for everyone in the house. I still remember her knocking on the bathroom door like she was the shower police.

“You’ve been in the shower long enough,” she would say. “Leave some warm water for the rest of us.”

For our family of five, hot water was somewhat of a “hot” commodity, so Mom rationed it. Most of the time, I bathed in the evenings. My sister and brother usually showered before school, but on occasion, I would too, and that put a strain on the hot water situation. Our water heater couldn’t keep up with demand.

So Mom set rules for us. She felt that a shower shouldn’t take longer than three minutes. I had long hair, and it was challenging to lather, rinse, and repeat in that amount of time. I hated to rush through my shower routine, but it was better than facing the wrath of Wanda.

The truth of the matter is that my long showers had nothing to do with how much time was needed to soap up and rinse. It was more about preference. I have always enjoyed standing in the hot water stream until a small cloud forms in the bathroom — until it’s so foggy in there that I can’t even see myself in the mirror. I exit the shower with skin the bright red color of a Better Boy tomato.

Today, I’m still that girl who likes to take long showers, and thanks to the miracle of tankless water heating systems, we never run out of hot water, so I can take my dear sweet time, if I want to.

Some people rely on coffee to wake them up in the morning. Me? I just need a hot shower, and a heavy water stream. I prefer the water to come shooting out of the shower head like a fire hose or a pressure washer. I want it to feel like the water stream could possibly blast my eyes out of their sockets if I’m not careful. I fancy myself an environmentalist, but those water- saving rainfall shower heads with their gentle, trickling streams of water just aren’t for me. I can’t even rinse the soap out of my hair with some of those new shower heads.

Hot showers help my sinuses drain a little. I’ve long suspected that I’m mildly allergic to our dog and cat who share the house with us, and every morning, my nose feels a little stopped up and my eyes are a little bloodshot. My morning shower helps me breathe again. I emerge feeling like I am ready to take on the world again.

During Georgia’s colder months, we sleep with the temperature in our bedroom a few degrees cooler than the rest of our house so we can snuggle comfortably in our quilts and fleece, but when morning comes, the house feels like the Arctic Tundra. I jump into the shower to warm up. Indeed, there have been many times in my life during ice and snow storms that the only thing that warmed my body to its prefrostbite state was a long, hot shower.

Some may think that it’s a waste of time to stand in the water stream for more than a few minutes, but we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I tend to go into a deep meditative state while I stand underneath the hot water, and meditation is known to be good for the body and soul. I do some of my best thinking in there. I solve problems, big and small. I find balance and calm.

And sometimes I hum or sing in there because the acoustics are great in our master bathroom and the steam feels good in my lungs. Sundays, I sing gospel songs. Throwback Thursdays are for singing songs from the Seventies like Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia” and Rod Stewart’s “Maggie Mae.” The other days are kind of a free for all, and I sing whatever pops into my head on those particular mornings.

Scientists say that 60 percent of the human body is composed of water, so maybe my affection for long, hot showers is biological in nature — perhaps my body longs to be near water, because it’s made mostly of water. I don’t know. I’m just thinking out loud. But I do know this: three minutes is not enough time to take a good shower.

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