I Believe in Group Bathrooms

I Believe in Group Bathrooms

Dawn Nitz

Growing up in a large city, and as a child of the 90s when we were ‘blessed’ with the Internet boom, I was raised in an era

of decreased face-to-face human contact. I yearned for what I believed was a community: to really know my neighbors and to

have a support system that went beyond immediate family. Strangely enough, I found what I was looking for in a campground


Whenever my family went on vacation, we went camping. When anyone in my family woke up in the middle of the night

needing to go to the bathroom it created a huge commotion as we prepared for the roughly quarter of a mile walk to the

communal bathrooms. Stirring around, trying to find clothes in a pile of duffle bags, digging for shoes, plus unzipping three

individual and noisy zippers to exit the tent made nighttime bathroom excursions a pain in the butt for everyone. And what

about when it rained? Not only did the rain exacerbate the need to pee, but we also needed to unearth ponchos and prepare for

the puddles our flip-flopped feet would be sloshing through.

Those bothersome bathroom trips turned into some of the best parts of camping. The girls’ bathroom in the morning was

chaos: imagine 15 women vying for four showers, four sinks, and four stalls. It was a lesson in patience, but somehow it

brought everyone together. Dirt tracked in from the campground paths blended with moisture that had condensed on the

ground and created a gritty, muddy soup we all stood in. Humidity from the showers and the summer heat fogged up the

mirrors, toothpaste frosted the countertops, and the sweet smell of different fruity shampoos hung in the dense air. For some

strange reason, while trying to get clean and beautiful in the midst of all this grime, I found this tight knit little community.

Maybe it was the fact that we all felt exposed (usually not many people could see us until we were washed and made-up), but

people seemed nicer in the bathroom. We all made sure everyone knew which shower wasn’t producing enough hot water,

shared toiletries, swapped beauty tips, and laughed. There we were, total strangers, but we cared about each other enough to

warn someone when a stall didn’t have toilet paper. By the end of a week of camping, our friendship had extended beyond the

bathroom as we began to spend time together around the campground.

The next time I got to feel this kinship was in my college dorm. My entire floor, all females, shared a bathroom, and I

couldn’t have been happier. In a place where I felt alone, alienated, and afraid, the sweet scent of shampoos suspended by

muggy air brought me back to the campground, and I knew the bathroom was where all my floor-mates and I would all begin

to bond. I believe that group bathrooms can create a little community where people actually care about each other, and despite

the grime, I adore them.

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