Sunday, August 7, 2011

Decadent Pleasures: Wine, Candlelight and Solitude

Picture this:

A 500-square-foot corner studio apartment, fully square in shape with clean, white walls. There are two windows on the front wall that open to the street (which it views from a second story vantage) and a vertical side window – one that likely is the same age as the early 20th century structure – that opens vertically and locks with a twist latch. 

The main room takes up a little more than half of the apartment, with original, small plank, hardwood floors. The remaining space is split evenly between a small kitchen and a very large bathroom. The kitchen floor is original, wide, black and white, checkerboard tile. Along with a full wall of sink and cabinets – broken only by a small window that opens onto another building – that connect the floor to the 11-foot ceiling, the kitchen contains a miniature 4-top stove and oven as well as a slightly small fridge that is straight out of the early ‘50’s, lever handle and all.

Are you with me so far?

The piece de resistance to this compact living space is the bathroom area. Immediately inside the doorway is a small, built-in make-up table complete with a large wall mirror. To the right another door leads to the spacious, dark red bathroom that includes more checkerboard floor tile, a full wall of wide storage cabinets, a high rear window that tilts at an angle to let in air and a large, deep, old bathtub.

What I have just described to you is the West Hollywood apartment I lived in from late 1998 until early 1999, just after I separated from my now-ex-husband. That time was among the happiest of my life for the simple fact that life was so… well… so simple.  Many people, women in particular, dislike being along. I, on the other hand, enjoy it immensely. I like to be in control of my time, and I have no problem filling my days and nights with a fine combination of rest and activity. Yes, I adore my family and wouldn’t trade them for anything. And no, my solitudinal ecstasy had nothing to do with my ex or with the separation in and of itself. Those post-separation days were simply filled with a very pure type of joy.

I will share that almost every night in that apartment I enjoyed a cherished decadent pleasure. Come with me as I relive it (don't worry... this is PG, or possibly PG-13):

The evening is very dark and late, and the lights are out throughout the tiny apartment. The vertical side window is open to the night, as is the high angled window in the dark red bathroom. The smell of fresh-baked cookies wafts through the space, though the cookies themselves have yet to cool. The “Practical Magic” soundtrack CD is playing just loud enough to drown out the street noise… or maybe it’s the soundtrack to “City of Angels”… 10 or 12 large, lit candles line the horizontal ledges throughout the dark red bathroom, lighting the room just enough to read while still creating an air of calm mystery. The breeze gently drifting in through the windows is cool, but the water in the bath is hot with a thick head of frothy, playful bubbles piled up to a foot high and more around the entire surface. As for me, I lay low in the water, one hand holding a glass of wine, the other holding a novel. And there I stay and read until the bath grows cold and the wine runs low and the bubbles deflate down to a fine, flat sheen on the water. 

Ahhhh... ecstasy.
Photo posted respectfully with thanks to Wikipedia.

These days, my evening decadence has been reduced to a small bowl of M&Ms and a glass of milk that I enjoy while folding my family’s laundry. The only bathtub in my house is in my children’s bathroom.

There are nights when I eye that tub, with my glass of wine in hand and my Kindle at the ready with whatever history or fiction I’m enjoying at the moment, and I think about re-instituting my evening bath ritual. Or at least reliving it again just once.

Just once.

What’s your favorite decadent memory or ritual? Share! We may want to give it a try!


Pam Asberry said...

Ah, the decadent pleasure of a bubble bath and a glass of wine. Thanks for the memory. I just might have to try that tonight. It has been too long.