Monday, September 13, 2021

First world problems, appreciating the little things in life, moments of joy, and the importance of gratitude

When I took my shower this morning I had this weird moment of utter joy as I watched the water draining properly instead of backing up and pooling in the tub. This will be a rather lengthy setup, but bear with me:

A couple weeks ago the management of my apartment building sent out an email reminding us to be careful what we put down toilets and drains - grease, various paper products, the usual. They also mentioned hair.

Because my hair is naturally curly and brushing it out turns it into a fuzzy, frizzy mess, I'm not in the habit of brushing it regularly, so it naturally sheds on its own and a lot of it comes out when I shampoo my hair. I catch as much as I can but a certain amount unavoidably ends up down the drain and eventually builds up, and Liquid Plumber doesn't work in large buildings. So because of the email, I decided I needed to be a little more proactive in preventing my hair from clogging the drain. 

First, I bought these hair catchers. Check it out, they even come in beach themes! So I installed one and the first thing I noticed is that the tub wasn't draining as usual. The water pooled up and I figured the hair catcher was probably impeding the drainage, but on the other hand it would help keep the drain from clogging, right? And the tub did eventually drain, so I figured it was a trade-off.

Saturday morning I was getting ready to take my shower and discovered that there was still water in the tub. Not a lot, but it clearly hadn't drained from the day before. I had also gotten these things at Home Goods last week that are basically pipe cleaners on steroids that are supposed to help clear drains, so I poked around with one of those to no avail. Oh, and before doing that, I pulled out the hair catcher to discover that in the week or so it had been installed, it hadn't caught any hair, but by now it was obviously that it wasn't what was clogging the drain, the timing was apparently just a coincidence. 

Luckily I actually have a small, second bathroom in the apartment that I use for storage. I haven't used it as a bathroom at all, because I simply don't need it. It has a small stand-up shower, so the good news was that after hauling a bunch of boxes out of there, I was able to take a shower. After that, I discovered that the shower in the master bathroom had finally drained. I didn't want to deal with it over the weekend, so I figured I'd just use the spare shower and put the service request in Monday to have the drain in the main bathroom cleared. 

On Sunday morning I was in the master bathroom when I discovered that there was some water in the tub again and that's when I realized it wasn't just a case of my drain being clogged - this had something to do with the building and possibly other apartments around me, and probably something I shouldn't put off. So I put in the service request and around 11:30 a couple of really nice maintenance guys showed up at my door and went to work. 

At one point one of the guys left, then came back and I mentioned that it looked like a bigger job than we'd thought. He told me that I shared drainage with an adjoining apartment and that we were both clogged. Eventually they got the situation resolved; when I asked if there was some way I could be more proactive about prevention I was advised that it was just something that built up over time, not anything that anyone did. These buildings are old - Marina del Rey was developed in the 1960's and I think my place was built in the early 70's - but unlike all the other old apartments in town that have been torn down and replaced with modern behemoths, this place is so nice they can't justify just flattening it, although major renovations to update the guts and interiors are planned a few years out. I've always taken into consideration that being in an older building means issues that I'm willing to deal with.

So what all this drama led to was my shower this morning, and how giddy I was to see the water draining. And that got me thinking about how fortunate it is to live in a modernized society. Not everyone does. There are people in the world for whom any running water is something they can only wish for. There are people who don't have enough food to eat. There are people who live in squalor. Right now, there are American citizens in Afghanistan living in constant terror for their lives, in absolute fear of death from second to second, wondering when their leaders will get them to safety, wondering why this didn't happen sooner and if it will at all before they're slaughtered for no reason at all in a third-world hellhole so far from home.

And I'm here doing the happy dance because my tub is draining properly.

Right now I'm sitting out on the patio in the early morning coastal haze, enjoying my new patio furniture and my coffee, listening to a young squirrel in the tree next to my patio adorably chirping up a storm, sounding like a cranky old man who wants the kids off his lawn. Sophie is out here too, and like me seems to be quietly soaking it all in. It's just so nice and peaceful, the kind of morning I moved back here for. The kind of life I wanted and am so lucky to have, regardless of what I might want but don't have.

This stupid issue with plumbing served as a reminder of how fortunate I am to be here. I love my apartment, I love the layout, I love the patio and the fireplace and how luxuriously pin-drop quiet it can be (when the delivery and trash trucks aren't parked right in front of my place). I love being close to the beach and to water, and I really, really enjoyed the mild summer weather here as opposed to the high-90's/100 degree days the past couple of years in the San Gabriel Valley. 

It was something as simple as water going down the drain to bring all this on. I can get easily irritated by little things and I think the message I was sent this morning in the shower was not just to be grateful for everyday things that are so easy to take for granted, but to remember to have, to experience, to truly feel immense gratitude for what I have in life, at this moment. It was a humbling reminder that made me stop and think, rather than just going through the usual motions.

Now I'm off to get my hair done and to have a wonderful day. I hope you do the same.

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