It may sound extremely odd to you, but over the years the bathroom has become my sanctuary. I don’t spend much time grooming myself, staring in the mirror, or beautifying myself. Contrary to that, the bathroom represents a closed off world where I can always be myself, free from the influence of others. With that being said I’m picky about bathrooms and for the most part only my bathroom does the job. My two favorite spots are either sitting on the toilet or standing in the shower (before you ask for the most part I am not actually using the toilet). The actual activities taking place in the bathroom have changed over time (more like I have added more options), but it is still my sanctuary.
Even as a little boy, I favored a spot upon the toilet seat. Being an only child can be intimidating, when you are the main focus of attention from your parents. I’m fairly introverted in the sense that I need time to myself so I desperately needed space. To escape some unwanted attention I would just sit upon the toilet seat. The door was locked, no one could hear me, and I was free to act as I pleased. My main source of entertainment was something I call “playing with my hands”. I would let my imagination run wild and go through scenes from sports, movies, books, and cartoons. I could imagine I was the new sith apprentice to Darth Vader, or I was a starting center in the NBA; the possibilities were limitless. While I would lose myself to imaginative thoughts, my hands always physically modeled the actions of my characters. The swinging of a lightsaber, a fadeaway jumpshot, or a warrior charging into battle. It was my little secret and I never wanted people to recognize what I was doing, so it never occurred outside of the bathroom.
Of course my mother eventually caught on. My aunt and uncle had come to visit from India and there was only one guest bathroom in my childhood home. First thing in the morning I went to occupy the bathroom as usual. I had my share of fun and then exited the bathroom nonchalantly. When I came downstairs my mother teased me that I had been in the bathroom for two hours and she could hear lightsaber noises from the bathroom. I had been so caught up in my imaginative thoughts that I lost the ability to perceive how much noise I was making. Even after she found out, I refused to play with my hands outside of the bathroom. My mother would jokingly say that it was perfectly fine if I did so outside the bathroom, it’s just that hogging the bathroom for a lengthy period of time was problematic/unusual. It was a matter of pride to me and unless the house was completely empty, I refused to play with my hands outside the bathroom.
Call this arrogance, but I thought so highly of this idea that I wished to introduce it to the president. I imagined myself traveling to the White House and telling Bill Clinton that there is no need to manufacture toys anymore because I had the one toy to rule them all: playing with your hands. I imagined applause as I announced my idea at a press conference and my idea changing the way kids across the nation spent their free time. However I soon realized this was not a very novel idea. In a couple of years time my baby cousin would scream “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!” from his bathroom and that was the day I realized a lot of other people did this in their own way. He even had three full bathrooms in his house, so it was not necessary for his mother to knock on the door and yank him out when guests were over.
As I grew up, video games and other forms of interactive entertainment curbed my urge to play with my hands. Experiencing being away from home especially dissuaded me because I needed my bathroom and not a temporary one. On top of that, teenage years brought different needs. As to be expected I was adapting to the presence of newfound responsibilities and struggling to meet the expectations others had of me. In my early teens I retreated to the bathroom to claim isolation again as my parents scolded me for not doing my homework, or enjoying video games significantly more than I enjoyed school. When the scolding got too intense I would cry, and I hadn’t learned yet that it is okay to cry. So I would retreat to the bathroom to escape the feeling of being controlled by my parents.
I was incapable of expressing my helplessness vocally so I started projecting an aura around myself in my later teens. I started singing in the shower, and often times the lyrics I chose related to the struggles I was facing. Ironically I was never able to communicate this directly, but the second a singing voice came from the bathroom my parents were unable to ignore my complaints.
No one knows what it’s like
To feel these feelings
Like I do
And I blame you
No one bites back as hard
On their anger
None of my pain and woe
Can show through
Behind Blue Eyes – The Who
Bodies fill the fields I see, hungry heroes end
No one to play soldier now, no one to pretend
Running blind through killing fields, bred to kill them all
Victim of what said should be
A servant ’til I fall
Soldier boy, made of clay
Now an empty shell
Twenty-one, only son
But he served us well
Bred to kill, not to care
Do just as we say
He’s yours to take away
Disposable Heroes – Metallica
These are two songs that are frequently in the lineup when I feel the urge to sing in the shower. I remember seeing a knowing look in my dad’s eyes after belting out the second verse to Behind Blue Eyes. I’ve always had a difficult time conveying my emotions and this was my first step towards learning how to do that. No one could fault me or judge me for what I said, because I was simply singing. At the same time they were on the other side of the bathroom door, forced to listen to what I had to say. At a time when I felt I had no power, or no say in my life, singing in the bathroom solved all those problems. I feel that surrounding myself with a musical aura that demonstrated the problems I was facing changed my life. Without that my parents never would have realized my need for independence and space, something I desperately needed.
Now that I am in college, I’m not afraid to admit to you that I’m still doing all of these things in the bathroom. This bathroom is not nearly as nice as my bathroom so I don’t spend the maximum amount of time in there, but every now and then the need to carry out my activities outweighs my distaste for an inadequate bathroom. I don’t play with my hands as much anymore because video games tend to interest me more, but I doubt I will ever stop. I firmly believe there is no shame in admitting that “I Adi will occasionally sit on the toilet seat as a an adult and play with my hands.” Singing in the shower was never an awkward phenomenon so I guess you could say not much is accomplished by admitting that. Regardless I spend a little too much time in the bathroom, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So now I have officially announced my deepest darkest secrets on the internet and you can all giggle at me (cheap marketing ploy: stick around there are more to come). I hope you enjoyed a laugh at my expense and are encouraged to spend more time in your favorite bathroom. A good bathroom is a truly wonderful place, and I’m sure many of you have your own rituals that you carry out in there.
Small disclaimer: Yeah I’m pretty weird, but life is about embracing what makes you unique. I’ve been hiding this part of myself for so many years, when really my imagination and creativity are core parts of who I am. This post was acknowledgement of that realization.