Foggy mirrors

As a girl, I used to shower in my parents’ bathroom instead of my own. I’m not sure why. Maybe because their bathroom was bigger, brighter, and had a jacuzzi. Maybe just because I wanted to be more like them.

This past week I’ve been visiting home, and due to plumbing issues, I showered in my parents’ bathroom again tonight, for the first time in roughly 15 years. You don’t really think of a bathroom as a place for memories, but being in theirs brought back so many little moments from my past.

Sitting on my dad’s countertop, watching in the mirror as my mom did my hair. Playing in the jacuzzi and mixing up “super soaps” from all the different bottles. Graduating to the stand-up shower with its frosted door, where I could write secret messages in the condensation. Usually “I <3” whoever I had a crush on at the time.

If you asked me, I couldn’t have told you where I used to hang my towel, but tonight my hands went there automatically. And though I can pinpoint the exact moment that I realized I needed glasses — summer math class with Mr. Bath at Kinkaid — tonight I remembered how the reflections in my parents’ bathroom mirrors had gotten blurrier and blurrier, just a little bit each night. Sometimes these forgotten things are the most powerful. They make me wonder what else has been lost, and what other bits of myself are waiting around the corner to surprise me.

The bathroom is a weird place to feel nostalgia, but still, it was kind of nice. And it makes me want to capture more of these random memories, more of these little moments, even if there’s no real story to tell.

14 responses to “Foggy mirrors”

  1. Anthony Lee Collins Avatar

    I went back to my elementary school, many years after I graduated, and it was amazing how many things I remembered. Every room, every staircase, every corner, it all came back right away.

    If you’d asked me the day before where the cafeteria was, I’d have had no idea. The minute I got inside the building, I could have taken you there with my eyes closed.

  2. Amanda Kendle Avatar

    Bathroom nostalgia! So lovely. And so weird, I had completely forgotten that I did the same thing, using my parent’s bathroom, perhaps until I was a teenager? Also no idea why. Now that I’m a parent I would probably find that annoying! Luckily mine didn’t (or didn’t tell me).

  3. Shari Avatar

    You know, though, sometimes there ARE stories to tell in those little moments … because when added up, they weave a tale of life, and that’s important. Sometimes the ordinary moments end up being extraordinary ones. :)

    (And I agree – it’s fascinating how we can forget something over the years and then all it takes is being back home to remember EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL.)

  4. Elissa J. Hoole Avatar

    Haha! Growing up, I always felt that my parents’ bathroom in our mobile home was the fanciest place in our trailery abode…I spent a lot of time in there, soaking in the giant tub (it had its own STEPS!), and when we finally moved into the house that my parents were building in the backyard, I was sad to see our trailer go away. Weirdly, that bathroom has made it into my fiction–the girl MC in my current WIP lives in my old trailer-house, and I have a scene in that bathroom that really brings back the memories. :)

  5. Sonje Avatar

    I’m interested to know what a real story is if that isn’t one.

  6. T. S. Bazelli Avatar

    I’d never thought about bathrooms being a nostalgic place, but I do dream of the bathroom in my childhood home fairly often. I like these little moments you write up! It’s easy to forget the small details, and I think it’s nice to pause and recall them.

  7. Juliann Wetz Avatar

    I like the imagery and memories this conjures. Your words transported me to that bathroom, and I could feel the steaminess enveloping everything as the mirror fogged.

  8. kaye (paper reader) Avatar

    Gah, I love this post. I think the biggest thing for me is what our hands do, what our muscles know, before our brain can catch up. Sometimes I forget what my password to my computer is (it’s…insanely long) but then I air type it out and the movement itself triggers what my fingers have to do. And then my brain remembers.

    I find the concept incredibly intriguing. Memories are such a quirky, fascinating concept.

  9. Kristan Avatar

    Hm, I’m not the only one with bathroom memories. How delightfully odd! Lol.

    And yes, memories — especially the ones we don’t even realize we have — can be so fun and fascinating. Glad y’all enjoyed my sharing a few. :)

  10. Jon Avatar

    I love this post. There’s a great passage in The Corrections when Chip comes back to his parent’s house after years and years and has a flashback moment. Those memories never go away, I guess.

  11. Joy Avatar

    I use to pretend I was a mermaid when Id take baths or sing whitney houston songs at the top of my dad would pound on the door and yell “STOP SINGING” which resulted in me singing even louder :) Great entry, no matter how foggy the mirror, your reflection will always be on the other side!

    I should be a fortune cookie writer..O_o

  12. Kristan Avatar

    Actually that does sound like a pretty good fortune cookie saying! Lol.

  13. Meghan Ward Avatar

    This is wonderful. I’m headed home to Michigan next week, and I feel those same moments in the upstairs bathroom of my parents’ house – memories of curling my hair every morning before school, of my brothers coming in while I was on the toilet and my crouching down low so they wouldn’t see me, of my brother singing, “There’s a xxx up my butt” by Eddie Murphy while brushing his teeth, of playing with plastic boats in the tub for hours, of my other laying me on the counter with my head in the sink to wash my hair, of my mother cutting my bangs crooked and then cutting a little more and a little more until they were very short but straight …

  14. Kristan Avatar

    Lol about the bangs. I have a story/memory like that. Except my dad was behind the scissors. And was immediately forbidden from ever wielding them at me again.