water, water…nowhere


When I got home last night, the water was gone.

I had just watched The King and I in Costa Mesa at Segerstrom Hall. It was part of a special summer series of movies outdoors. Unfortunately, sitting outside means dirty palms and feet, not to mention the light sweatiness that comes from staking out for long hours, while the sun was still out, to ensure getting a good spot. I was in dire need of a shower.

I pulled up to the driveway to find my mom walking outside in her pajamas. Her sandals were flapping against wet yoga pants. She wore a furrowed expression on her face, illuminated by the blue glow of her cell phone.

Uh-oh, I thought. What could have happened now?

“The sprinklers have been on for 3 hours,” she grunted at me through my car window. No eye contact. Just her style. She flip flopped onto the sprinkler system dial through the open garage door. I made my way inside and stripped as soon as I got to the bathroom. It felt good to be free of my clothes. When I tugged at the knob, I heard the pipes choke behind the wall. The shower head dry heaved.


I found my mom downstairs with a flashlight pushing random buttons on the sprinkler system dial.

“What happened?” I asked, trying not to let my irritation get the best of me. I was wrapped in a towel, and my eyes were burning from my contacts having dried out. I couldn’t even wash my hands in order to take them out.

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Well, I am kind of worried because the water’s not working in the house.”

She barely flinched.

Wonderful, she was going to play the silent game to avoid admitting that she had somehow turned the water off. 

“Where’s Dad?”

She avoided the question by leaving the room.

My parents fight constantly. It’s complicated. They currently sleep in separate beds and converse only when it’s necessary. We keep up appearances but are internally split. Like those chocolate oranges that seem to be whole but easily break into slices when you apply enough pressure.

I live in a house divided, and now there was no water in it.

I went back upstairs and sat on the toilet seat lid in my towel, turning on the faucet every 2 minutes to see if the water would come back on. No luck, I was forcing the pipes to squeeze out something that simply wasn’t there.

“You’re going to have to go to the gym to take a shower. The water’s not coming back on tonight,” my mom said as she wiped her hands with a rag.

“It’s 1:30 in the morning. Can’t you turn the valve back on or something? I have work tomorrow morning and I don’t want to drive out to the gym right now.”

“Well, you should have come home earlier then.”

“How was I supposed to know you were going to shut off the water supply?” I was more than irritated.

She gave me the silent treatment again and disappeared into her bedroom. I stared at the light leaking out of the edges of her door frame and remained in the bathroom, as if waiting it out would turn the water back on.

Suddenly, I’m jolted awake. I didn’t even realize I had fallen asleep, but some faint impressions of a dream about my mom waltzing with the King of Siam convinced me that I had dozed off. By reflex, I tried the faucet. Water! Glorious, smooth, flowing water! My mom had probably gone to war with herself about dealing with it or not and headed downstairs to fix it herself.

Without waiting for the water to get warm, I jumped into the shower, grateful to rinse off the day. I decided that after I finished, I would go and give my mom a big wet hug.

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