Illustration by Dakota Cox

The world was a better place the last time I took a bath

Taking a bath should always be a last resort

Even as the world and our perception of it changes at an exceeding pace as we age into adulthood, there are certain constants in life that we can always rely on. For me, it’s that taking a bath is a big mistake.

The fond, foggy memories of 3-year-old me sitting in the tub with a rubber ducky and a dozen other toys, paying no attention to hygiene and playing until the water grew cold are an unpleasant reality today. Now, what you get is a 22-year-old man-child sweating into a soapy Dakota flavored soup. Yuck!

The last time I took a bath, I was living in the studio apartment on my uncle’s property that had been designed for my grandmother – without a shower. For four of the longest months of my life, I was oppressed by my circumstances to an archaic method of bathing, one only the greatest of my enemies should ever be forced to endure.

After spending the holiday back home with my mother, I returned to my studio to discover the greatest Christmas present I’d ever been given. While I was gone, my father had a showerhead installed above the tub and a curtain put around it for good measure. Since that day, over two years ago now, I’m proud to say that I am both metaphorically and literally clean.

In the time since I last took a bath, an incredible amount has changed in my life and in the world. While my personal experience has followed a roller coaster of highs and lows, it seems every time I turn on the TV, there’s another tragedy on the news.

7 months clean.

In the summer after I graduated from community college, more than 46,000 fires were started in the Amazon Rainforest to clear land for crops and grazing. Deforestation has plagued the Amazon Rainforest since the 1970’s, claiming tens of billions of trees so far, and what’s projected to be 27% of the entire forest by 2030. The effects of the devastation to the forest is already having a measurable impact on the region with temperatures rising, causing more frequent floods and a longer dry season. With the world’s largest forest disappearing before our eyes, to be replaced mostly by endless fields of cattle, producing methane at an increasing rate, our window of opportunity to combat global warming is closing more rapidly than ever.

10 months clean.

With the holiday season right around the corner, I became the victim of grand theft auto around the same time the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Wuhan, China. Since then, as of Feb, more than 100,000,000 cases have been recorded and over 2,350,000 deaths have been linked to COVID-19. The initial feeble response of nations like the United States and their failure to correct the mistakes following the resulting massive outbreaks have caused this pandemic to grow much larger and last much longer than it ever should have with the modern advancements in science and technology we have available today.

The late response and the fail to correct our mistakes has caused this pandemic to become much bigger and last much longer than it could have. Instead, we have placed all of our faith in a vaccine that’s sure to be refused by a large enough stubborn portion of the population to keep us inside for at least another year.

14 months clean.

After spending 17 years legally single, my mother remarried less than a month after the world lost one of its foremost living idols when Kobe Bryant passed away in a tragic helicopter crash. Recent years have also seen several sudden deaths of rap artists, including rising superstars Juice WRLD, Pop Smoke and the controversial XXXTentacion, along with hip-hop legends Nipsey Hussle, Mac Miller, MF DOOM and too many others. Because of the internet, the state of celebrity culture today leads most of those with a considerable following to live their entire lives in the spotlight, thanks to social media. Having access to your favorite celebrities 24/7, as a fan, creates an artificial perception of a personal relationship that makes losing a star harder now than ever.

17 months clean.

While I sat home last summer, lamenting the loss of a childhood friendship that could have been avoided with a mature conversation, a police officer sworn to protect the lives of the citizens of this country, Derek Chauvin, stood with his knee on the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes – long after he’d become unresponsive. This extremely public tragedy came only months after police mistakenly broke into Breonna Taylor’s home, then opened fire, fatally wounding her. These police murders reignited the Black Lives Matter movement that was first conceived in 2013 when Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who was acquitted for claims of self-defense. Trayvon Martin was far from the first black person to be killed at the hand of someone who’s supposed to protect them, and this will unjustifiably continue until the people committing these heinous crimes are held accountable.

25 months clean.

Over two years have passed since I last took a bath. I am no longer the clueless child, sitting in a tub of Dakota soup, without an Associate’s degree. Now, mere months away from receiving my Bachelor’s in a field I stumbled into and fell in love with, there’s finally something on TV resembling good news. Though Joe Biden is certainly no Bernie Sanders, the end of the Trump era is cause for a collective sigh of relief. Gone are the days of waking up to the president’s latest outburst on Twitter. The appearance of professionalism will once again return to politics and we can go back to living in ignorant bliss of the deteriorating state of our country.

Here’s to hoping the next time I take a bath, I can climb out of the tub into a better world than the one we have today.

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