NPR logo

'Summering' in My Own Bathtub

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4815516/4815517" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Summering' in My Own Bathtub

Commentary

'Summering' in My Own Bathtub

'Summering' in My Own Bathtub

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4815516/4815517" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Writer and actress Annabelle Gurwitch doesn't spend her summers in Tuscany or East Hampton. Instead, she "summers" at her modest home in Los Angeles. In this essay, Annabelle explains why a hot bath, a few candles and a good novel are almost as nice as a summer in the south of France.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

ANNABELLE GURWITCH:

With few days remaining this summer, I realize that I have worked through the entire season and haven't had time to do my traditional summer ritual, something I started 20 years ago.

CHADWICK: That's DAY TO DAY contributing writer Annabelle Gurwitch.

GURWITCH: The summer of my freshman year in college, I headed off to London for a semester abroad. Before my classes started, I visited some family friends in their manor house in a tiny pastoral village in Dorset, home of the novelist Thomas Hardy. My days were spent tramping over rolling hills, baking shortbread and, at the end of each day, I would take up a position in one of the many upstairs baths, a freestanding, old-fashioned, claw-and-ball tub with steaming hot water, iced tea, a few candles and a book. It seemed only appropriate to read a lot of Hardy that summer.

I had no way of knowing that, in fact, this would be my last carefree summer, that my family had suffered financial setbacks, I would need to drop out of college, I would actually be working as a mime, dressed as a hamburger, handing out flyers for Arby's on a street corner in downtown Manhattan, when I finally finished reading "Tess of the d'Ubervilles."

For much of my 10 years in New York, as I was struggling to forge a career as an actress, I lived in an apartment which was so miniature that you could literally lie in bed, answer the door and fry an egg all at the same time. I also had a musically inclined woodworking neighbor who, for a period of four months, mistakenly believed himself to be in love with me and I with him. He would play "If I Were a Carpenter and You Were a Lady" every time I returned to the building.

The floor of my apartment was also slanted. It was a sublet of a sublet of a sublet rented from my yoga teacher, who was indicted years later in a pyramid money scheme. And on top of all of that, I had been told that Serpico once lived in the building, which might explain why shady characters were often lurking in the vestibule.

It's safe to say I wasn't receiving invitations to Capri, and the closest I got to the Hamptons was a train ride to Coney Island. But my apartment did have a great Art Deco, purple-tiled bathtub and a window which looked out onto vine-covered chimney tops. So after a long day of pounding the pavement, dropping off pictures and resumes to agents and performing in various off-off-nowhere-near-Broadway, depressing avant-garde productions which received even more depressing reviews--one of which consisted of the single word `Why?'--I would return home and observe my summer ritual. A few candles later, a tall iced tea and a soak in the tub could transform any ordinary city night into the Dorset countryside.

Now that I live in LA, I do a lot more summery-type things. My husband and I play baseball and swim at our neighbors' next door with our son. Of course, that's what we do all year long. But as an actor and writer, I still don't find myself in a villa in Tuscany in August. Why? Because now I have just enough of an established career to be lucky enough to work year round, so I haven't had my summer yet, until tonight, when I plan to brew some iced tea, light some candles, take a hot bath and read a good book.

(Soundbite of sigh)

CHADWICK: Radio stories, that one from actress and DAY TO DAY contributing writer Annabelle Gurwitch.

DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News, with contributions from slate.com. I'm Alex Chadwick.

Copyright © 2005 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.