Claustrophobia: The fear of confined spaces.
I am standing in the bathroom of my new apartment. My body is sweaty and funky as hell. Yet, I can’t bring myself to enter. Each time I reach down for the handle, my hand freezes in midair. What’s wrong with me? Maybe this is a stroke. I turn my back to the tub and sit down on the edge, my hand firmly on the porcelain.
With my free hand, I search for the touch of a round metal lever. Success! The handle fills my palm. I pull down, the sound of heavy water fills the bathroom. Shower rugs cover the entire floor, no tiles are visible. The hooks are in a row at the end of the shower rod. Every item within five feet is outside the bathroom. The plunger, waste basket, and hamper.
This is a ritual I do to make me comfortable. The more space I have, the better. With fewer items in the room, my mind is stable. Steam spreads around me. I undress then cautiously dip one toe into the small pool. Before I could flip the switch to turn on the shower, a dizzy spell came over me. My arm bumps against the wall. I lose my balance.
I grab my chest, it feels rigid. It makes no damn sense. To be thirty years-old and still doing this. After twenty minutes, I decided it would be easier to leave one foot in the tub, and the other one the floor. I lather each side of my body this way, then rinse. Once the deed is done, my shoulders drop, and my muscles relax. I exit in a hurry.