the best shower i’ve ever taken

I love showers.  My wife makes fun of me sometimes because I shower for too long.  In 2005 I was working as a volunteer relief worker for the Red Cross in Plaquemine LA, Iberville Parish.  It was right after Hurricane Katrina.

I flew in from LA a few days earlier in to Jackson Mississippi.  When we landed we were shuttled to a small hotel.  The hotel was filled with other relief workers as a staging area.  I spent the night there barley getting any sleep.

I wanted to shower but there were notes on all of the faucets saying do not use.  Apparently the water was contaminated due to Katrina.  So the next day I drove into Baton Rouge LA, I stayed the night at another staging area and left early the next morning.  The water was contaminated there too.

When we finely got to the community center in Iberville Parish, we worked all day and slept backstage on the floor.  We were told that we could shower in makeshift public restrooms, but since they were still pulling people out of the flood waters the only shower they could offer us was at midnight and it would be a mixture of half chlorine and half water.  I opted to add an extra layer of deodorant to my already deodorant caked armpits.

On about day ten I was in a Win-Dixie buying some fresh fruit, something I craved due to eating McDonalds for ten days straight, and I was telling a friend that I needed a shower.  I told him that I didn’t care I will find a hose and spray myself off but I couldn’t handle my own smell any more.

We were wearing our Red Cross Vests and a woman in line told us that we should go over to her house and take a shower.  It was like an angel flew down from heaven at that moment because there was nothing more important to me than getting clean.  That night we went to this woman’s house.  Her name was Hope.  She had a great family.  They offered us food and drinks, warm cookies and veggie platters.

Coming from shelter life this was pretty amazing.

Then there it was.  A shower and a shave.

As soon as I stepped in the shower I started to cry.  It wasn’t a sad cry.  It was joy.   I was overcome with Joy that I was able to shower.  I soaked up every minute.  I shaved slower than I normally would.  I let shampoo sit in my hair for a few minutes just so the hot water could hit me for a little longer.  It was the greatest shower I’ve ever taken.

I’ve been alive 9,884 days.  Some days I take two showers if I’ve had a really crazy day, if I’m camping I may not shower.  But I’ve at least showered 9,000-10,000 times, but this one shower is really the only one that I remember.

Sometimes there are things in life that are so ordinary that you pass them by.  You go through life never thinking of their significance.  But when your journey has been tough, when there’s been ups and downs in it, the destination is that much sweeter.

Things like showers become memorable events that symbolize hope.  You’ve probably seen some amazing sun rises but the ones you remember were special because you hiked to the top of a mountain to see them.

How has a long or tough journey made they final destination that much better?

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