There are some relationships that last for a brief while and some that were built to last for years. Like the relationship between a girl and her favorite towel.
Yep. This is a love story about a towel.
It begins six and a half years ago, in Europe. Don’t all great love stories begin on a whirlwind holiday in romantic Europe? Three Coins in a Fountain? La Dolce Vita? Roman Holiday? I was traveling the continent with my first love. My first love was a human boy, just to clarify. But that was mainly because I hadn’t met The Towel yet. Keep up!
So this human boy (inferior to the towel in many respects, but we’ll get there) had just spent a semester abroad and we were reunited at the end of a LONG separation in London, from where we planned to fly to Amsterdam, train to Paris, EuroRail to Roma and fly back home to New York out of Venice. I busied myself during the long, lonely days apart by booking and planning all of our travel and accommodations. This human boy often told me I had “issues” surrounding the fact that I needed to be in control of every situation. I don’t like surprises. I was very happy to be in control of our travel plans.
Or so I thought.
See, I don’t like surprises. Much as I don’t like Improv Comedy.
“Oh, you should do improv!” people often told me as an actress. Improv is like surprises (ugh, surprises): something new and bizarre is foisted upon you and you have to say “Yes, AND…” and roll with it. I don’t like people just up and CHANGING my circumstances. That is NOT. FUN.
Like the volcano that erupted just days before my flight to London, to meet up with Human Boy. Yeah, you remember that one? Spewing ash and grounding flights?
UNPLEASANT SURPRISE!! I managed to get a ticket a week later, and flew across the Atlantic with just a day in England to spare before the flight to Amsterdam.
The Amsterdam hostel I’d booked was charming (cheap!), bustling (cheap!), and hip (full of other cheapies like myself!).
Let me put it to you this way: I had never seen queen-sized beds stacked up like bunk beds until this hostel! But there we were, Human Boy and I, sharing the top bunk in a room with 24 other travelers. Fun (cheap)! Really, everything about this place suggested it had been designed for tourists who would probably be too stoned to handle themselves:
EVIDENCE: all of the windows had safety bars, like you’d find in a child’s bedroom, to prevent guests who couldn’t handle their substances from attempting to “fly.”
EVIDENCE: all of the overhead lights were rigged up to motion sensors, so a mere wave of the hand could prevent some poor, confused soul from getting trapped in the dark.
EVIDENCE: furniture was kept to a minimum to prevent tripping over cords, knocking over bookshelves, and throwing sofas. As you would expect.
All these amenities for the modern traveler, and they forgot to supply one thing:
I realized this tragic lack the next morning when I went to shower. I stealthily lowered myself from the top bunk, careful not to wake the couple below us. They were finally asleep after a night of passionate arguing, followed by passionate making up, followed by more arguing, followed by more making up (you can fill in the blanks, we’re all adults here).
I made my way to the shower rooms, and washed quickly while waving my hand over my head every few minutes to keep the lights from turning off (motion sensors, remember?). I reached for a towel to dry myself off, and….
Well, what choice did I have?
I tugged my dirty clothes back on over my sticky, wet skin, which soaked through my jeans and t-shirt. I squeezed as much water as I could out of my long, wet hair, then left it dripping down my back. Water was running off of my body, forming puddles on the floor. I was drenched. I looked like I had jumped fully-clad into the canal across the street. Hell, I doubt anybody would have thought anything of it, except for “I’ll have what she’s having.”
This was a most unpleasant surprise. And we know that I do not. Like. Surprises.
I roused the Human Boy, and quickly communicated that this was an emergency. Our first order of business in Amsterdam was clear: FIND A TOWEL.
We found a home goods shop in, of all places, the red light district. No, I’m not kidding. Using a map we’d been given at the hostel and the directions of the front desk clerk, we found ourselves, bright and early, walking past windows where prostitutes sat on stools, knitting, reading the newspaper, looking bored out of their minds. What a sight I must have been, soaking wet and furious, dragging my Human Boy past their windows to the Dutch Towel Store. Culture shock, man.
Once inside the store, the sight of towels calmed me down. Dryness was within my grasp!
Now I could pick the towel I wanted, and the towel of my dreams was a purple hand towel, twice the size of American hand towels. It was practically a bath towel! And dark purple, or as I would say, “aubergine,” the color of eggplants. My favorite color. I paid four euros for the towel, and it kept me dry all across Europe. It came home with me, and together we’ve lived in 3/5 NYC boroughs. This towel is the Velveteen Rabbit of towels: threadbare in the middle from so much use. Its bold purple hue faded from various skin products and weekly laundering.
Over the past six and a half years, my life has seen changes and upheaval I could never have imagined, but this one thing remains the same: at the beginning and at the end of each day, I wash my face, and I reach for that towel. And I don’t let anyone touch my face — especially not Human Boys — but I trust that towel.
That towel doesn’t get texts in the middle of the night from unlabeled contacts, and brush it off as “someone from work.”
That towel doesn’t make excuses for why I can’t meet his new friends when it turns out that maybe these “friends” are more than “just friends.”
That towel doesn’t tell me I’m crazy for being jealous, and act like I’m the one with the problem — Me! Not the towel who’s been sneaking around with God-knows-who and doing God-knows-what until God-knows-when he finally stumbles home!
That towel isn’t going to dump me after already moving on to its NEW GIRLFRIEND and leave me wondering what I did, was it me? When all along, it was going behind my back, and —
When you think about the things in life that you can control, I mean, love isn’t one of them. You can’t control whether or not someone will love you forever. You can’t control your happiness. But to all of you who thought I was crazy for my devotion to that towel, I say this: that towel has always been there for me. Right where I left it, on the rack on the back of the bathroom door. That towel has never broken my heart. That towel is the longest relationship of my life! No bad “surprises” with this towel, only this good one: I’m surprised it’s still in one piece, after all these years.
Get you a towel you can depend on, and you’ll be set for life.