When Is a Bathtub More than Just a Bathtub?

When it’s a symbol of how goals can be achieved when you’re not being held back.

When I was in college, I dated a guy whose family was pretty well off. They had two very nice homes and one of their homes included a soaking tub in the master bathroom. I was 19 when I saw it and from that point on, I wanted one just like it.

Of course, that wasn’t immediately possible given my financial situation. We graduated and my boyfriend and I went our separate ways. I lived alone for about a year and then met the man I’d eventually marry. We lived together in three different homes — well, five if you count the apartments he lived in part-time for work for several years — none of which could accommodate the tub I’d dreamed about, even though I could well afford it by then.

I should point out that my last home, in Arizona, had what’s called a garden tub. This was a generously sized bath tub that looked very inviting but was, unfortunately, not deep enough for a good soak. I used it a lot on winter afternoons, when the sun came through the glass block window and warmed the bathroom. I “made do” with what I had, with either my knees or my chest sticking out of the water while I read or sipped wine.

(Much later, during my last winter in Arizona, I drained and disinfected my outdoor hot tub. After refilling it with clean water and having the heater repaired, I spent quite a few evenings out there, soaking in the warm water. I think I used the hot tub more that last winter than I did in all the years I owned it.)

Americh Beverly 4040
My dream tub.

Oddly, on a trip to visit some friends in California around 2010 or so, I saw my dream tub again. It was in a rental home on the American River that belonged to a friend of a friend. It was installed exactly as I would have installed it: by a big window with a view. In this case, it was a view of the forest around the home, but that was enough.

I surfed the web and tracked down exactly what it was: Americh Beverly 4040.

Time passed. After 23 years together, I married the man I loved. He lost interest in me soon afterwards — but not my money, apparently — and left me for a desperate old whore he found online. (Read the posts tagged divorce if you want the sordid details.) He wanted the house and I didn’t so I left. I rebooted my life by buying 10 acres of view property in the Wenatchee Valley of Washington state and began building what has been referred to as a “custom home” but is actually just a very large garage with a modest living space upstairs.

But the more I dealt with divorce bullshit — and believe me, there was quite a bit of it — the more I realized how much I deserved to have the little luxury items I’d been denied for all the years I spent with a man incapable of making a decision without researching options until either I lost interest or the opportunity was long gone.

Little things like my soaking tub.

So when I designed my bathroom, I designed it with a soaking tub in mind. A tub by the window so I could look out and enjoy the view while I had a good, long soak.

Sadly, my dream tub would not fit in the space I designed. It had to do with my windows. You see, because I wanted to be able to enjoy the view whether I was standing up or sitting down anywhere in my home, I chose tall windows that started only 18 inches off the floor. My dream tub was taller than that. Most soaking tubs are. A built-in tub was out of the question. I’d have to get a freestanding tub.

I must have spent 20 hours in total searching the web for just the right tub. Every few weeks, I’d dive in again, looking at many of the same sites and tubs over and over. Trouble was, there’s no showroom anywhere near here that has tubs like I wanted on display. I had to rely on the Internet for photos and measurements. How many times did I sit on the floor with my legs out, holding a tape measure beside me to estimate water depth? It was vital that my entire body be covered with water. I did not want another bathtub that left my knees sticking out.

My Tub
The catalog photo of the tub I selected.

I finally settled on the 67″ Coley Acrylic Freestanding Tub available through Signature Hardware. It cost a bit more than I’d wanted to spend, but the longer the divorce bullshit dragged on, the more I was convinced I deserved it. I was tired of settling for less that what I really wanted.

I didn’t realize it, but the bathtub had become a symbol — a symbol of a new, unfettered life. A life where I was free to make all of my own decisions. A life where I no longer had to consult or debate with a sad sack old man who always seemed to have excuses for why something couldn’t be done. A man who was too fearful of taking risks that he couldn’t make anything worthwhile happen.

The bathtub arrived in January and sat in its huge box for two months. It was finally carried upstairs and installed in my bathroom on Thursday. When the plumbers left, it was ready to use.

And how I wanted to use it!

But I’d promised some friends I’d meet them for dinner and, by the time I got back, it was too late for a soak.

And on Friday, a friend came over for dinner. When she left, it was too late for a soak.

And on Saturday, I helped some friends with a catering job in town. When I got back, it was too late for a soak.

Yesterday was a rainy day. I spent most of the day finishing up electrical outlets and switches and light fixtures around my home. A friend came for a visit and we chatted for a while. When he left, I fixed the ice maker in my refrigerator — the installers had failed to turn on the valve for the water source. Then I sat in my lounge chair by the window in the living room and just listened to the sound of the rain on the roof while looking out over the gray day, with low clouds drifting over the river and alongside the hills. My almost-finished home was warm and dry. I started thinking about that tub.

My First Bath
My first bath in the new tub was exactly as I’d hoped it would be.

A while later, I was stepping into deep, warm water with a glass of wine on the windowsill, well within reach. Hot water tumbled from the faucet, building bubbles high. Before the tub was filled my whole body was submerged.

It was exactly as I hoped it would be.

And that’s when I realized that this first soak was another milestone in my rebooted life. The realization of a goal I’d set for myself almost 35 years before but had abandoned due to circumstances beyond my control. It was possible because there was no “beyond my control” anymore. I had control of my life and could do what I wanted with it.

I was free to make things happen — and I was.

10 thoughts on “When Is a Bathtub More than Just a Bathtub?

  1. BecaUse it has no overflow drain, you have to very careful! Says the girl who has forgotten she’s started to fill the tub.
    But, seriously…congratulations on the tub and all it represents.

    • Yes, I plan on entering the tub when it’s half full and shutting off the value when the water level is 4 inches from the top with my body fully submerged. I flooded out a bathroom in Cancun once; ran water in the sink to wash a bathing suit, lay down on the bed, and fell asleep.

  2. The overflow issue is easy enough to deal with, just install a floor drain. It’s cheap insurance against flooding the rest of the house in case of a moments (or a lot of moments) inattention. We’ve got a hundred-year old cast-iron clawfoot tub we bought for a song that’s waiting for the downstairs bathroom remodel. Back in the day they knew what you wanted in a tub, deep enough to soak everything at once, and heavy enough to hold the heat till your wrinkled like a prune!

What do you think?