I don’t remember the bathroom in the first house I lived in. But I remember the first time I saw the next one.
In between the living room and the kitchen, three large block steps led to the warmest room in the house. The room where my mother would leave cloth-covered trays of breads and rolls to rise before baking. The room where I concocted exotic experiments with the science kit found under the tree. The room where we were forbidden to touch the old ringer washer, a consequence of my mother’s fear that we would send our arms through the ringer the way her mother had when she was a child.
The room with a bag-filled bucket.
In high school, the first day of school delivered year-defining discoveries. Which flat. Which room. Which roommate.
I was unusually lucky in all three categories, all five years that I spent traipsing the hallowed stone halls of Canada’s oldest co-ed boarding school in my too-short black watch kilt and Bass Weejuns. But while being caught on an infraction was the single greatest mistake, being caught in the shared bathroom facilities empty handed was next in line. And sneaking down to the park on a Saturday night confirmed that females should never frolic in the dark. In the woods. In the presence of beverages.
And that not all leaves are kind.
In college, life revolved around Thursday nights. I had set my sights on a top university, recognized as much for its academics as for its social credentials. A beautiful campus with dramatic stone buildings, a cavernous library and lush greens surrounded by beautiful homes, tree lined roads and a soothing river that ran through it, my university of choice offered a dance club and on-campus pubs within walking distance of a full medical center, if one so needed. And if you weren’t in line for The Ceeps by 5 p.m. on Thursday, you were left out in the cold wishing you were inside the legendary 120-plus-year-old watering hole. For four years I reveled in literature and linguistics and purple and alphas, gammas and deltas. I walked away with honors, but my crowning achievement came in the affirmation of three things.
I hate math. Bring your own toilet paper to parties. Perfect the art of using a frat house toilet without actually touching it.
As a mother, I learned how to navigate tiny, premature diapers and that tiny parts should be tucked just so and I race to bring fresh rolls to those in stranded distress. I pray for kegel fortitude – eternally grateful for the emergency c-sections that preserved elasticity and control – as I unload three overloaded satchels, a purse, empty water bottles all while trying to focus on the excited “Mom, guess what happened today!”’s as I realize too late that I have not taken a break since the start of the day.
Sitting here in the silence of the café restroom, alone for the first time in days, I can’t help but wish.
That I had a square to spare.