My hands are covered in bubbles from a soap that will never be the same as the fun & fruity scented liquids in America. With one hand on a sponge, I turn my ear to Simon as I wash the dishes, offering advice as he asked me to listen to a story of a problem he is facing today. We talk through it as he is unnaturally timid as he stands asking for help, and he’s quiet after we settle on a solution to try. In silence he watches me finish the last pan, lifting it over and into the sink of bleach water to make certain there are no parasites in the dish water that may cling to the dish. He’s not sure what to do with himself since I asked him to follow me with his questions since I had chores to do, inviting him to talk while I worked in the kitchen.
“Where does the water go?”
I’m surprised at the innocence of the question for a second, my friend seems to have been through it all in his young age and is no stranger around the Sant Mouvman. I smile and turn to him, explaining it the best that I can and asking for thirty seconds to dry my hands – with a promise to show him.
I drain the sinks after placing the last piece on the drying rack and grab a towel, drying my hands and calling him over. I open a cabinet and lean down, signaling him to come over and look. As we bend down and peer into the under workings of the sink, I point out the pipe and ask if he remembers the construction site last spring. He gets an “of course I do!” look (much more typical of his personality than the shy persona he gets when he is serious) and we talk about how the water flows to the ditch that was dug behind the house that we both remember being dug last April.
He’s a smart kid, and quickly understands. Now that the topic has been opened up, the questions keep flowing as he slowly looks at the second sink.
“Will water come out if I turn this?”
“You can turn the spout over either side?”
“Is this what your kitchen in America is like?”
(I laughed at this one: Not quite. The Sant Mouvman has an amazing kitchen.)
Oh wait. Attitude check.
Because you see, Simon is impressed by the fact that the water leaves the house through a pipe, never to be thought of again. The faucet spits water with the simple turn of a knob, and all of this is done into a clean sink.
(We haven’t touched on the 24/7 electricity or appliances such as a fridge.)
Man, am I blessed. Yes, Simon, I think all of the homes in America have sinks like this. The sinks aren’t hooked up to a chateau (water tank on the roof), instead there’s water pipes hooked up to the city that bring it to the house.
“So you don’t have water trucks in America? You don’t have to call someone to bring water when you’re out?”
“How much do you pay for that?”
“How do they know how much you pay?”
Though it’s hard to explain the universal water system in America, Simon comprehended what I was saying the best that he could. We talked about sewer systems, meters, and electricity bills. I tried my best to explain as each word only hit my heart harder than the last, “Stephanie…you don’t even have to think about these. You don’t even fully understand how it works, because you don’t have to think about it. The systems have been in place, your parents have always paid the bills before they could be shut off, and you could drink the water from your toilet and not get sick if you wanted to”. (I don’t want to, by the way.)
Each attempt to better explain the way that things work where I grew up only cemented the fact in my heart that there is so much that I take for granted in the day to day. We’re not talking food, we’re not talking water. We’re not talking clothes or the roof, we’re talking things that are in no way part of something that I have done. I happened to be born in a country where, years and years ago, sewage systems were created. Water to neighborhoods and the universal basic of sinks and indoor plumbing were made so natural that you’ve had a unique experience if you’ve been in an outhouse. (Don’t even get my friends started on the idea of a Port-o-Potty.)
I have never – NEVER – wondered where the water goes as I’ve grudgingly done the chore of dishes.
I love the curious and innocent questions of a friend with big eyes, looking under the sink with me. I hate how quickly I confuse “want” & “need” while for some, something like indoor plumbing still seems like a wonderful story from a book.
Let’s never stop being thankful for the things that have become natural details in our lives. The things we don’t have to think about, aren’t things we don’t have to thank about.
We are so blessed. So dangerously comfortable, but so blessed. Did you hear my thoughts on our soap? That’s what happens when I get comfortable. The soap isn’t good enough. While Simon watches in amazement at our sink.
It’s funny…I end up cheating myself with my discontent at something that someone else finds pleasure in just learning about.