Photograph by Sarah Miller.
My bathroom is ugly. My bathroom is so ugly that when I tell people my bathroom is ugly and they say it can’t be that ugly I always like to show it to them. Then they come into my bathroom and they are like, Holy shit. This bathroom is so ugly. And I say, I know, I told you.
Let me list the elements of my ugly bathroom: the sink has plastic handles and it’s impossible to clean behind the faucet. Or, you can clean behind it but it’s difficult, so it’s always grimy. The sink itself, the basin, is made of some sort of plastic material that probably used to be white and is now off-white.
The water pressure in the sink is almost nonexistent. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the sink itself but when your bathroom looks like this you don’t think, Oh wow, I really want to improve the water pressure, because bad water pressure goes with the decor.
The textured ceiling looks like a birthday cake that was frosted with canned white frosting by a person who hates whoever’s birthday it is.
The shower is maybe the worst part of the bathroom. When people come to visit us we have to tell them that the shower is disgusting and even then they cannot manage to remember not to look crestfallen when they see it. It too has fairly poor water pressure and is really tiny and the inside of it is cracked and the shelves in it are too small to fit bottles of shampoo and they are always falling down when you are taking a shower and if you have your eyes closed you think you are being attacked.
The floor is linoleum and cracked all around the edges.
I have left out the most important detail which is that this bathroom has redwood paneling that goes up to about four feet and then the rest of the bathroom is painted the same color as the ceiling. One tiny window looks out onto nothing. The curtain on it is the same curtain that was here when we used to rent this place. We lived here for a long time before we purchased it from the owners. It’s one of those two-part curtains that has a small shade across the top of the window and a smaller one that hangs below it. I can’t even tell you what it looks like, which should embarrass me, but I am always too tired to think about it.
I am glad that it is there because we used to live next door to this real asshole and I didn’t want him to see me naked for my sake, and we are about to live next door to some nice people and I don’t want them to see me naked either for their sakes.
We have a new kitchen. I’m not going to sit here and lie and tell you that I don’t really love our new kitchen. When I was growing up my parents never redid our kitchen. It wasn’t a very efficient space for cooking or hanging out in. It was annoying. I was like, You guys both have jobs, let’s fix up the damn kitchen.
I like having a beautiful kitchen that’s really easy to cook in. I appreciate the original placement of tiles that my partner did, which I consulted on, and I like how the garbage can pulls out from under the counter and you can just sweep scraps into it, and I like having a dishwasher, which I have never had as an adult until just a few months ago and which has changed my life. So I don’t want to say I don’t take pleasure in comfort and beauty. But I want my shitty bathroom to stay the way it is.
I get so sick of everyone thinking that everything they use has to be nice. Can’t some stuff just be crappy? Why do we have to get rid of perfectly functional stuff just so that every corner of our vision can twinkle with magic and possibility?
I don’t think having an ugly bathroom makes me a good person. It just makes me someone who is able to feel satisfaction with one specific place that is far from perfect.
There is much that I want. Some of it would make people think I am shallow and self-serving, and some of it would make people think I am deep and caring and full of desperate hope. My bathtub is nice in the sense that it is large and porcelain. It is the bathroom’s best feature. When I am in this tub I can pretend that I don’t want anything at all, that I am perfectly satisfied. If the bathroom were nice, I would start thinking about all the things that aren’t. This sounds absurd, but as a very tense person, I know exactly what conditions can relax me. It is necessary for me to protect these conditions. I do not have a good job right now, so there is no present danger of the bathroom being renovated. But I will be vigilant when there is.
Sarah Miller is a writer who lives in California. She writes a Substack.
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