shadows gather to decide me

August 7, 2018

My grandma keeps decorative towels in her favorite bathroom. In the hallway linen closet there are bath towels and hand towels and washcloths that are used in everyday life by everyday humans. Their lifestyle is a busy one, always in some stage of transit between storage, use, and being cleaned. The decorative towels, on the other hand, lead long and serene lives on the white wicker cabinet next to each other and the decorative soaps. They have been there for my entire memory, blending perfectly with the rest of the bathroom, washed and repositioned on a regular basis but only occasionally actually used by visitors who don’t know any better. I have always thought they were a little too foofy.

This morning I realized that I have a set of decorative towels. Or to be more accurate, I have a set of threadbare aged washcloths and hand towels that I made out of vintage beach towels and frequently reserge the edges of that I only use in my favorite bathroom. They do not even make it to the linen closet, I just scoop them lovingly out of the laundry and take them right to their display shelf. I have precious shrinking bathroom towels.

To be fair, they are also the towels I use. And in the dish they sit next to is an ugly lump of misshapen oatmeal soap in some or other stage of its dwindling useful life, not at all pretty. 

My special towels, my person, my entire life, in fact, may be less pretty than my grandmother’s, but the story arc of her ways runs through my funky selfmade narrative like a threaded rainbow. In the vast patchwork of things I have inherited from her slantwise or verbatim, possession of decorative bathroom towels is a legacy I was reluctant to receive but now that I realize my arms are full of it I am amused and softened to have. With the etiquette savagery of my erstwhile wildness a foofy facet of self has been riding shotgun all along, just waiting to have a second bathroom, select a favorite, and portion out the fancier linens.


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