It was 7:25 p.m. on a Friday. Like the week before and the week before that and the week before that and so on, it had been five minutes since I returned home from work at 7:20, five minutes after my shift ended at 7:15. All I had to do was go through the motions, as I had practiced everything I did over and over again and engraved it in my brain. I clocked out, unthinking, pulled my car out of the five-minute-only parking spot where I left my car for seven hours, unthinking, turned left out of the right-turn-only lane in the parking garage, got flipped off and honked at, unthinking, drove home, unthinking, walked in, unthinking, pet my dog and tried to get him not to lick my face (he eats my other dog’s poop), unthinking, stepped into the shower, unthinking, turned the faucet and waited for the warm water to rain all over me, unthinking.
But when the water came down, it was ice-cold. I jumped away in shock, shivering while I waited for it to heat up. As I continued to test the temperature with my hand, I realized the warmth would never come. Being sensitive to extreme temperatures, I wouldn’t take a cold shower if I were engulfed in flames and needed it to put me out. So the next day, I spent most of my evening boiling water from my kitchen sink to bathe myself. And no, I did not take a bath right there in pots and pans. I boiled water in two pots, carried them up to my sister’s tub, and dumped them in–refilling each one about four or five times. I wish I could include a video of me stumbling up the stairs wearing oven mitts, struggling to carry a giant pot as hot water splashed all over the house. For all that effort, I took the least satisfying bath I have ever taken in my entire life. By the time I stepped into the tub, the water had lost most of its heat, and it only went down three or four inches. This took place in my younger sister’s bathroom, which was filled with so many hair and shower products that their combined smell nauseated me. Her bathroom was also covered in hair, which was equally repugnant. The most maddening part of all this was that I knew I would have to do it again the following day or find a similarly difficult way to bathe–and I would have to do it more thoroughly because the next day was Easter.
I didn’t have to worry about how well I bathed before my Easter festivities; it was after these activities that would require a thorough washing. Even though Easter is the most tranquil and least physically demanding holiday for most people, the opposite is true for me. Every Easter is a full sweat-inducing workout, and it isn’t because I go to the gym on Easter (or any day of the year). For the last eleven years that I have lived in my current home, my two neighbors, my younger sister, and I have participated in an intense, highly-competitive, every-man-for-himself Easter egg hunt. Most see Easter egg hunts as fun, cute celebrations for little kids. But our egg hunt is not cute; it’s vicious. We’re also not little kids, but a group of people aged eighteen, sixteen, and fourteen. This was probably normal when we were all younger than ten, but not so much anymore. The neighborhood dog walkers strolling by looked freaked out by the driving-age and voting-age teenagers racing around the front yards, scrambling to fill their baskets with colored eggs. Yet we were far too focused to care what onlookers thought. When we collected our eggs, we didn’t smile or giggle, and we definitely didn’t help each other out. Instead, we chucked each other out of the way, shoved our opponents to the ground, stomped on feet, jumped in front of one another–not caring who we tripped and made fall face-first on the concrete driveway. Nothing mattered more than obtaining as many eggs as possible. And if that meant someone losing a tooth, getting scratched to the point of bleeding, or even breaking a bone, then so be it.
The egg hunt is one of my favorite events of the year … because I always win it. I gain my victory in two ways. I not only collect the most eggs, but I also obtain the golden egg: an egg four times the size of the standard one–covered from bottom to top in shiny (plastic) gold. It’s hidden in the trickiest spot and contains a better prize than any other egg. This year, I found the most eggs (twenty-six), which was expected. My neighbor and best friend Alex found the fewest (thirteen), and then she stole all of the money my sister Bridget found in her eggs. My other neighbor Lucy, Alex’s younger sister, got third place (which means she sucks). But for the first time in history, Lucy found the golden egg instead of me. I still declared myself the winner, as I collected far more eggs than Lucy–which is why I’m certain she cheated. Somehow. I attached a photo of all of us being sad after Lucy found the golden egg.
The fierce competition left me drenched in sweat. It was more tasking than any cross-country meet I had ever run. I could run a marathon, and even that would require less energy than the egg hunt. This brought me back to the issue I discussed at the beginning of this blog: I had to shower, but I had no hot water. It was the third day of the crisis, and my plan was to wash one body part at a time with cold water. I stepped into the shower, unthinking, turned the faucet, and waited for the freezing to strike me, unthinking. And then the water poured down–but it was warm. I jumped, not because the water was too hot on my skin, but because of how shocked I was that it wasn’t cold. I could have screamed with joy, and I wanted to crank up the temperature until my skin melted and my bathroom became too humid and foggy to breathe. After minutes of soaking up the warmth, I realized how interesting it was to be overcome with joy over something I had had every day and didn’t think twice about. This made me understand how easy it is to forget how important simple things are until you feel what it’s like to be without them–and not just in the case of hot water. The Easter egg hunt is another example of this. After eleven years of knowing my sister and neighbors could participate in the hunt, I didn’t have to think much about it. But upon realizing that it would be the last Easter I’d spend at home before my neighbor and I go off to college, I understood how special it is. I see my sister and best friend/neighbor every day, and I don’t think twice about it. But when I’m on my own in college, it’ll feel like having to shower in ice-cold water. When I return and see them again, it’ll feel like taking the first hot shower in months.