Without water

The day the waterline broke near Silverthorne Elementary School, was the beginning of an interesting 48 hours inside my household

I should have known that morning when mom told me that she was going to colour her hair that it was a setup.

The payoff came when I was walking home and met District of Houston staff going door to door, to inform the residents of Thirteenth Street that there will be an emergency water shut off, and a familiar friendly face said to me, “I just told your mom that there will be no water.”

I laughed so hard my ancestors heard it.

Filipino women are resourceful.

Friends allowed us to collect water, mom got to wash her hair in someone else’s shower, and I was able to continue on with my watercolour painting.

Our house reminded me of the time I was in Nicaragua. Forget treated water, to have a bucket of cold creek water waiting for you in the shower was a luxury.

When I was teaching English in Nicaragua, I was treated like royalty. I have never been shy of hard work, but the Nicaraguan families I stayed with showed their hospitality by treating me like the president of of their country. Getting to witness the daily routine of women fetching water for cooking, cleaning, and showering was a humbling experience.

Not a drop goes to waste. And it is a social experience to bring your laundry to the creek, line it up against river rocks as you wade in with a bar of soap and converse with your girlfriends.

At my house, my mom had a container of water for every need. One for washing the dishes, brushing our teeth, cleansing our face, flushing the toilet, drinking, and my watercolour art.

I admired watching her. She sorted the house like this was a familiar experience, and I realized, to her it was.

I wondered about the little luxuries I have taken for granted that for most of her life she had been without. And I recognized a fundamental difference in the cognitive thinking of two people, one who expected the water to come back within 24 hours, and the other, who waited on no one to get what she needed.

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