nostalgic essay/short story on growing up
|Love is a bath when you’re five years old and Dad has a beard made out of foam that smells like the colour pink. The sleeves of his jumper get wet. He won’t get angry about that for another four years, but he will. I learnt anger in strange places, but at least I learnt it. You can’t smile at everyone. For now he will kiss me on the nose and I will eat the bubbles because things that look pretty must taste pretty too. Some things are taught the hard way.
I grew up slow. So slowly that I don’t notice where the nose kisses are going, and I don’t look for the bubble bath when it’s missing from the side. The bathroom doesn’t smell of pink anymore. It smells like sea salt, and lemongrass, and blue gel that comes in a clear bottle. I take showers now.
Heating costs money. Ten years old, still not sure what money or heat actually are, but I know both make Daddy angry. The bathroom door stays locked while my pinky fingers race each other up and down the glass. Clear off patches on the steamy mirror so I can see just enough of myself. It feels wrong to stare but I do it anyway: not smart enough or old enough to know what my body means.
Fourteen. I shiver in the shower on purpose because I ate white bread for lunch. I don’t want a nose kiss or a bath and I don’t like the colour pink. Doesn’t mean I don’t crave it though: leaving the mirror all steamed up so my body is a peach coloured blur. Don’t want to make eye contact with my most hated friend. Now I understand my body I don’t want it anymore, wrap myself in cellophane and start chopping, angry that my legs bend inwards and my hair sits flat.
Love is a bath at fifteen, staring so hard I stop seeing flesh and I just see me. Warm water even in summer, and the air smells like the colour yellow. Mum’s tulips flower in a vase downstairs. Dad is in the garden, still angry, still loves me. I know I’ll be a good mother someday.