Sep 062011
Authors: Rodger Katz

I climb into my empty bathtub –– weary and yawning and naked.  I can hear the rattle of the air conditioner and the subtle sounds of my skin rubbing against the linoleum as I rearrange myself again and again and again.

At first I’m not sure; I think I want something but I’m at a loss and not certain of what could come from my sole and silent venture into the bathroom, of what could possibly derive when it felt like the whole world was just silent and sleeping around me. I wasn’t planning on taking a bath….

I don’t usually sleep well.  Most of the time this doesn’t bother me.  My strange, inadequate tendencies have often taken me upon strange and mysterious sequences, delusional living-room rituals, burning sage and lighting candles –– for now it’s this empty bathtub, the small notebook I drag in with me and the continuation of my heavy and concentrated breath.

In many ways this temporary escape from my bed feels like a mere consequence of my sleeplessness, but I still want something from it — I still want it to be something more substantial than just some obligatory response, than just some means to escape the sleepy limbo that had fallen upon me in the middle of this night.

So I close my eyes, attempting to ease my way into some meditative state, but I’m tired and this feels too much like sleeping (go figure). I smile. Soon a sweeping pulse of laughter from which I feel the insanity and the irony of the moment takes me.  I am mocking myself. I am no longer in control.  

I’m in the f***ing bathtub!   

Well yeah — you were the one who climbed in…remember?

I remember.  I absolutely remember. Now it’s just a question of what could arise; I already know why I am here.  

I reach for the candle that sits on top of the toilet; I have to stretch to grab the lighter.  The candle gives me a focus point; they’re usually good at that.  I set it on the side of the tub and stare, for just a moment, at the art of the flame. I shift back and forth, focusing and unfocusing, focusing and unfocusing. Again silence, but shortly after I set the candle down, I feel a sudden invigoration (just like I suppose I had been waiting for).

But this feels… thrilling. I feel energy, communication, I feel…. something. Perhaps it was of my own creation, a response to the insanity of my desire for something to go stirring in the night, but all the same, I get it in my head that there is someone waiting at my front door to be let inside.

The kitchen creaks. I hunch over the side of the tub. The tenacity of the kitchen to
creak at such a moment!  I admire the timing.

I climb out, onto both my knees, pausing on the rug and then choosing to grab the candle.  My apartment is completely dark.   I gear up for my trip down the hall. I tip toe, still smiling, still holding the candle.   The kitchen is empty, as is the living room. I walk, slowly to the door, still holding onto my presumption about a late night visitor.  I grab the doorknob without looking through the panes of glass, and in one fluid motion, I thrust the door open, simultaneously taking a step backwards. My cheekbones are tight and I am hiding slightly behind the door.  

I stare at the space above the ground.  

“Who may I ask is here?”

There is no response.  I ease myself off of the side of the door.  There is a feeling, a swelling energy. My eyes go numb. I can feel the warmth of a grandmother, and the curiosity of a child run through me. I envision an old sage walking to the door, an old, battered friend, an angel. Equal parts visitor. Equal parts emptiness. I feel a visitor. Both welcomed and mysterious.

I stare one last time out the door, and then back down my body.  I am still naked.  I close the door.  I realize I am tired, and I walk slowly back down the hall, this time turning right into my bedroom. I leave the door open.   

_Rodger Katz is a senior liberal arts major who has no motives. If he does, he wishes for them to remain lodged somewhere within the mess of the world, the way a child wanders infinitely through the backyard, soon mesmerized by the complexity and the possibility of the sand in the sandbox. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. He can be reached at _

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