Our new home has no bath. It has a shower that is located in a lone bathroom, the square footage of which is approximately the same as your average elevator. One pedestal sink, a standard flushing toilet and a carbon copy of a shower found in a Winnebago/RV—you know the kind, right? Plastic moulded walls with redundant built-in ledges and a sad little spout that dribbles well water. To be fair, our elevator-bathroom is appropriate for its environs; the house is little more than a winterized cottage. And this, my friend, is the reason I have not shaved my legs more than twice in the two months we have resided within this hut.
My first attempt, nary a week after moving in, left such disillusionment, a low-grade anger with myself for accepting the hovel in the first place, that I avoided the debacle until absolutely necessary— I’ve never been any good at braiding.
I am not a tall woman— understatement— and though I could be described as well-rounded, my wingspan is less than a turkey vulture. When dropping the soap in my special shower, my bum bumps or my head butts the door open. In order to shave my legs I have to turn off the water, lather up one leg, step out into elevator space, rest soapy leg on toilet seat, shave half leg, attempt precarious reach to turn on tap, shake razor under dribble, turn off tap, shave remainder of leg, hop in shower to rinse leg and check for missed spots, and then do the entire skit over again for the other leg (hazaar for being a biped). The first attempt saw me wounded, leaking hemoglobin over the linoleum.
This little cottage is not my ideal home. It is tiny and rickety and unattractive. But it is paradise. For those who follow my Instagram account, you’ll have seen the photos and videos of the Muskoka River at the end of my garden. You’ll have seen the leaves changing from green to luminous yellow on the opposite bank; the ducks hanging out on our dock; the birch white; the call of the Loon; the full moon; reflection on the glass-top water; children paddling their canoes; fog lifting every morning revealing the current below— ta-da! But you never saw my shitty shower pressed up against the shitter. Nope. Because, Y’all, didn’t you get the memo, I am living my #bestlife.
Pursuing one’s best life sounds like a good idea. It suggests a life lived making daily choices that are not mediocre; it’s avocado toast instead of PB&J; it’s CrossFit instead of hi/lo aerobics. Commendable choices. Choices that are meant to bring you into a fuller life experience. And that is what I was doing… getting fuller. Fuller and fuller of myself. And others. I have listened to more podcasts, watched more videos, read more self-help books than… well, just too much. It all came to a screaming halt about six months ago, when I heard myself suggest a ninety-day ‘renewal’ type program for a person I barely knew. Renewal. What the holy stink? I don’t do renewal; my idea of renewal is resetting my Netflix password— what possible reason could you have to do that voluntarily? I don’t do Crossfit. Functional exercise? Then why are you freaks walking on your hands each class— never in my life will I be required to cross the floor on my hands in order to save my life; flip a tire, maybe, but never hand-standing for minutes at a time. Functional, my arse.
I don’t make ‘commendable’ choices every day. My life is more of a zero-sum game: the losses can be subtracted from the gains, leaving me consistently with… zero.
Zero is not negative. It is not my ‘worse life’ or even a mediocre life. It is my most honest life. What concerned me about striving for my #bestlife is that I started adopting lifestyles that were becoming popular. Other people’s best lives started to influence my own, and you better believe I wanted mine to influence theirs. When did living a fulfilling life become a competition or an exhibition? Since everybody became an expert, that’s when. My life is not good for anyone else but me — pretty sure no other couple could replicate my marriage. And they shouldn’t (even though I do have a pretty wicked partnership with a pretty cool guy). Nobody would want to live in this little hole, though they may envy its location.
Making choices has now become an exercise in scrutiny— are you doing this because it ‘seems’ like a good choice, or because it moves you closer to honesty? Sometimes, honesty could be equated with vulnerability, other times it’s simply a choice to know me better. I no longer want to live my #bestlife, I am attempting to live my most #honestlife.
Sometimes making the honest choice doesn’t make you popular. And some of those choices will be wrong.
Last week I attempted, for the second time, the leg-shaving charade. I went into the shower already angry. But, while washing my hair I participated in much self-talk: Be grateful for what you have, Nats. Be present and be thankful for your legs and this shower and this dribbling water.
I stepped out of the shower with my first sudsy leg and placed it on the toilet seat. I shaved slowly. And when it came time to rinse the razor, I bent down and swished it in the toilet bowl. “Take that, shit head,” I said and commenced with the chore. True story.