I did not waste a lot of money in those days, because frankly, there was no money to waste. I was dirt poor, living paycheck to paycheck. Earning little more than what is now about minimum wage and raising my daughter almost completely on my own financially--even then, $25 a week in child support was a paltry sum-- I did have a particular indulgence in a product seemingly exotic and expensive at the time: Vita Bath Plus Shower Gelee. Every few months, I would buy an enormous bottle of this shower gel and every single day, we would all use it when we took our showers. We all smelled so good and so did the bathroom, towels and everything else the gel came in contact with.
I don't recall where I used to buy it 28 years ago, but in later days Fannie bought me a big bottle at Penneys as a gift, and then, sadly, the Plus Gelee went away. You could still get Vita Bath in other scents, but it seemed they'd stopped making the Plus in the purple bottle. Over the years, I got used to stocking up on the inferior, but much easier to find shower gels from places like The Body Shop, Aveda and Bath and Body works.
When I opened Sara's gift yesterday, I was perturbed with myself that I'd nagged my husband into re-caulking the shower that morning. Now it was all my fault that I'd have to wait until morning to bathe myself in memories, but maybe it was worth the wait. After all, I'd waited years to have this precious product in my hands...what was one more day?
Today the smells took me back as I thought about our girls and our time together in that condo. The persistent refusal of my friend's daughter to eat anything more than an apple for dinner (she could be stubborn), or the nights my friend and I took up residence on opposing sofas and read Danielle Steel romance novels until the wee hours. I thought about our collective grief when many years later, my friend's daughter was tragically killed just crossing a street. Memories, like feelings, often come unbidden, but I think despite our challenges of the day, we had some really beautiful times being poor single moms and made some wonderful rocking chair memories.
As I showered today, I thought about my tiny little house by the shore of the Saint Clair River where foghorns from freighters would awaken me, or the nearby train whistle would lull me to sleep. It was then that I'd first started buying this shower gel. I thought about my special young man who would periodically spend the night because the drive home was simply too far and the memories seemed distant, but at the same time like this time was only yesterday:
Each morning, the couple was awakened by her clock radio at the obscene time of 4:45 AM so the young nurse could make it to work--40 miles away--on time. Resistant to getting up, she'd press the snooze button on the radio until the station played Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine's song at 5AM and only then would she drag herself to her shower and use the special gel to awaken her spirit for the day. He would bitch and express disbelief that any soul would torture themselves with a snooze alarm, but now after 27 years together and nearly 25 years of marriage, both fondly recall the song.
Mmmm. The memories smell so good. I could swear that miracle gel makes me feel thirty years younger!