If I was a superhero I would be an Aquaman

studying my own weaknesses

Because if I’m being really honest, all my life revolves around just one object:

a bathtub.

A bathtub is the reason why I don’t live in my hometown back in Russia anymore. I could go on a long rant about the politics, the career opportunities, the social climate, and the daily doses of homophobia and misogyny that had hurt my gentle heart. That would be true, but that would be also false — because this shit is everywhere.

The reason why I don’t live in my hometown anymore is that the tap water there hits your nostrils with a trademark fragrance the second you turn it on. And the color — it is unnoticeable while the water runs, but as soon as you fill a container as large as a bathtub, you will see the tint from all the oxidated iron that went rogue in the water pipes. And the sight of it evokes despair so profound that my family had dismounted a bathtub altogether, opting out for a shower stall instead.

In Milan, you can drink a glass of tap water and not die — and this is as far as my understanding of luxury goes.

In Milan, the water is slightly bluish from the higher-than-average levels of calcium in it. The locals complain, but I think it’s chic af.

In Milan, I rent a tiny studio apartment with a tiny one-meter-long bathtub. If I fold myself properly, I fit in it. If I fill it with foam, I can pretend I’m in a movie. I can feel my skin, my tense muscles relaxing, I can hear my breathing, my heartbeat, and the chorus of the hell hounds in my head stops.

When I’m in a bathtub, I feel alive.

This is why I happened to live in a foreign country, dealing with circles and circles of bureaucracy, waiting for permission to breathe, drinking full spoons of loneliness and isolation.

This is why I don’t see my family for a year, this is why I’m living through the second wave locked in a tiny box, this is why I do the things I do.

The minuscule size of the human spirit in my performance makes it hard to look at, but is important to acknowledge.

They say we are creatures of habit, after all.

There are other things that would make me feel alive, for sure. A day on a mountain, writing a graphic novel, a heartfelt conversation, a heartfelt sex, saving a dolphin, building a house, telling an asshole off in a spectacular fashion, taking my sister for an adventure. They require effort, planning, means, and cooperation with other human beings, which is something I don’t always have the energy to perform. My tiny bathtub requires paying rent by the month, and somehow I’m being able to make it happen for now.

Being a human is a rather ridiculous way to spend time. We are able to scale mountains and lift cars in a state of distress, but our knees do the cracking thing once in a while and if we turn our necks too fast, they might hurt for a month. The human spirit is powerful enough to turn river from their course and start revolutions, yet switching off a funny video to do some work is an unimaginable struggle.

Animals, bound by the imperfections of their design, lead by their imagination to the places impossibly bright and impossibly dark. And the things that are small and passing can have no less significance than the decisions of the millennia.

And it’s useful to acknowledge one’s own weaknesses once in a while, I guess.

Anyway, the bathtub is ready. And while I’m in it, I think I could read a book.

Stories from another hemisphere, written under a stripper pen name and in a second language. Because God forbid we make things easier for us.