When I was a sophomore in college, there was a month after Christmas break where we forgot to pay our gas bill… the consequence was a week of ice cold showers. We survived. When I studied abroad in the Dominican Republic I used the rainwater collected in buckets outside and lugged it upstairs to the bathtub. Sometimes, if I felt luxurious, I would heat it up a little on the stove.
When I was on the community service team in Mexico one year, I worked 6 days straight under the desert April sun, covered in paint speckles and dirt engrained in my scalp. Then it rained, and we showered. When I was on an island in the boundary waters of Canada, 8 hours from civilization, I braved my way into the lake infested with snapping turtles to rinse off.
Cleanliness, when convenient, is much appreciated. Though as much as I like to be clean, I’ve had experiences that have made my skin tougher and, due to those contexts (such as a remote island), bathing didn’t really matter as much.
However, I live in Istanbul- a classy city filled with ambitious people in shiny boots and dresscoats. When our power goes out, it becomes an issue. One day without water isn’t that terrible. Day two it’s bearable. Day three I don’t want to go out in public. Appearances matter here more than they did in LA. It’s that kind of culture. But also, because I live in Istanbul, power outages and random days when the water shuts off is becoming fairly normal.
Remember Y2K? When many people (including my family) collected water in jugs just in case the world was going to end? Well, I’ve learned that when living overseas, having extra water stored on-hand is necessary. That is, if you want to be accepted by society and not smell.
There are perks to the simple lifestyle that power and water shortages create, some of which we have come to appreciate and even look forward to. For example: candlelight. Eating by candlelight. Reading by candlelight. Lugging stored water to the tub and sponge bathing by candlelight…
Being frequently forced to live by candlelight, although seemingly inconvenient, has been extremely beneficial to our souls. The glowing flames spark a calming atmosphere into existence… Calling us to rest. Beckoning us to slow down and breath deeper. At the end of a long day, this is much needed.
So, to the undependable electricity and water supply, I have to say thank you. Thank you for the surprisingly positive effect you have added to my life.