I do not masturbate in the shower anymore. I do not masturbate at all anymore, at least, I haven’t in a three weeks and five days. I count the days like a smoker since her last cigarette. It is the first time in fifteen years that I have gone longer than a few days without masturbating, and probably the first time in ten that I haven’t masturbated daily. That’s the way it feels, anyway. I do not know if it’s true objectively, but it is a large part of the story that I’ve told myself for so long that it’s impossible to distinguish that worn old tapestry from what might have been happening behind it.
The shower is a more relaxing place now, a place of cleanliness and morning ritual. A place of gathering strength and a place to start over, to rinse away the residue of dreams and fears, to find myself and establish a bass note on which to rest the melody of my day. I do not worry who is listening or who might come in. It has become a small, sacred space not much more than three feet in diameter that fills up with steam and prayer as I practice my daily ablution, simultaneously practical and ceremonial, the way that the best magic is.
After the shower I dry off and begin to reassemble my tools, knowing that even naked and wet, emerging from the shower I am whole. I acknowledge the usefulness of my tools, picking up the first of them from where I’ve left them. I remind myself that these are tools and only tools, that they help me, but they are not me, that I am something different, something set apart. I recover my watch and strap it to my wrist, asking it to hold me accountable for how I spend my time today and help me to respect the time of others. I put on my glasses asking them to help me see clearly that I may walk the right way. I put on my clothes more for warmth than for style now, the find my wallet and phone, acknowledging that these too have their purpose, but that they are not the purpose in and of themselves. I pull on my boots and ask them to support me in my travels today, to guide my feet safely and well.
I collect the child and change his diaper, thinking about the tools that have already become part of his identity: his diaper, his diaper cover, his jacket, hat and shoes. These are central to his life already and he can’t even name them yet. We ready ourselves against the cold with our jackets and hats, then, bundled and cuddly, into the stroller he goes and we are off for a cold day in the park, muddy and delicious.