My first solo trysts were in the bath. My parents afforded me tons of luxurious privacy in those early years, not really inattentiveness but chunks of time to be an island unto my small self. I remember drawing my own bath and using my mom’s scented purple bath beads that dissolved into a squish in the water. I loved waiting until they were like overripe blueberries and squirting them all over the yellow enamel of the tub.
With the privacy I had, I knew I could draw the shimmering gold curtain all the way across, and drape my two washcloths over myself and pretend to be a mature lady of twenty on the beach. It was a game I had been playing since I was about five, and with one washcloth on my chest and the other over my hips to simulate a bikini, my mind immediately went to some beach in Rio (or more likely in my seven year old mind, Hilton Head or Jeckyl Island). As I rolled the wet washcloth bikini top down, down, down to expose my not-yet developed chest I imagined something about a man who looked suspiciously like Magnum PI talking to me, coaching me in a slow, heavily accented voice. After the top washcloth was rolled into a sideways burrito, I put it around my neck and dreamed it into a diamond necklace. It was warm from being on my chest.
Peeking out of the shower curtain one more time, I slllllllllowly peeled back the washcloth across my hips. This was all I did, expose the space that was never exposed. I didn’t know I could reach deep down, yet. I simply peeled off the soaking washcloth and looked at my tiny figure a bit smugly, and then commenced to lather the washcloth bikini bottom with Dial.
This strange little ritual ended around the time I was twelve or so, when I finally discovered that pretty little button underneath the washcloth. After I laid a claim on the spot, my baths become longer and longer…the water turning frigidly cold as I taught myself the anatomy of my body, no imaginary coaching needed.