Yesterday I did something I've always wanted to do but never had the confidence for. It was my birthday and I like to do "me" type things on my special day. Usually that involves a pedicure, a museum or show, and a seafood dinner. It used to involve drinking until I woke up on the floor, but I'm pleased to say those days are behind me. This year I planned to spend the day with both pampering and hard work.
I suffer from asthma which doesn't bother that often, but whenever I get a tightness in my chest I fear a month of steroids and hell are ahead of me. The last time I had a really mean cold was last summer and I was sure to have my inhaler next to me at all times just in case. Every day I wished that I could get up off the couch and walk down to a near-by spa for women. It is a small and inexpensive place that offers a hot tub, steam room infused with lavender, sauna, and a cold plunge shower head. This type of experience is known in many cultures as the cure for what ails you, and also just excellent for your skin and breathing. In the U.S. I think many people view it as something rich women do for relaxation and luxurious self indulging.
What a ridiculous notion. First of all, it's only $15 and you can stay as long as you want. Second, it's not that easy to sit in rooms where the heat is sucking out everything you've got. It makes you dizzy, thirsty, exhausted, and sore believe it or not. You have to take breaks to rest your heart rate and get back to an equalized state. Drinking tons of water is necessary otherwise you will lose your mind or pass out. Of course, yes after the fact you do feel relaxed and luxurious and soft and fabulous.
I had wanted to do this for years and years, especially when I had trouble breathing, but the deterrent was...you have to be buck ass naked. (hence the reason this place is for women only) In gym steam rooms most people wear a bathing suit, and the whole place reeks of chlorine. But here, you've got to be fucking naked.
Now I've explained before that I'm not the most modest girl. I've changed in front of people and I've skinny dipped and I've even gone to the bathroom in front of people believe it or not. I mean come on. I've gone on a two week camping and canoe trip on the Mississippi when I was a teenager, and I briefly lived on an army base overseas, and I've even been to a god-damn disgusting ass Rainbow Gathering. So, yes I've been in several group showers and used a river as a toilet and have had to smear it, if you know what I mean. So there have been plenty of times when I've been made of tougher stuff and not the prissiest priss.
However, either I've grown more self conscious as I get older, or I don't feel like any of those experiences are comparable to laying around nude with a bunch of other ladies for hours. It's very intimidating. Years ago I attended a Turkish bath when I was actually in Turkey with my mother. It was a gargantuan room where naked chicks laid down in a circle and attendants would come by and wash you while you laid there in the steam. My mother thought it was perfectly normal for all of us to be laying about chatting with other naked chicks. I was completely mortified, especially about the bathing part, and I desperately did not want my mom to see my tattoo. She of course, is not American and stuff like this was part of her usual existence before moving to the U.S. I don't even think she noticed my tattoo, or maybe she didn't even notice nudity really.
I remember when I had to change costumes during a ballet recital and I was so frightened about my body being out there in the dressing room. She told me that it wasn't a big deal because all us girls had the same stuff, but I was so young and all I could think was that this didn't look like that at all. Laying around naked with other people is supposed to be relaxing but I couldn't get over it. The spa in Turkey didn't faze my mom but I couldn't wait to get out. It was one of the weirdest things I had ever done and I did not want a repeat experience.
Yesterday seemed like the time to get over it and go try since I knew it would be good for me, and I wanted to do something healthy for my birthday. The plan was to start with a yoga class to kick my ass, then head over for some deeper breathing at the spa. Several ridiculous thoughts ran through my head before I got there, like whether or not I'd be the mushiest woman in the room and how to talk to naked people if someone starts a conversation. I was extremely worried about the towel size and whether or not I'd wear it on all or half of me. And I worried most of all about the most embarrassing thing on earth: hair.
I've inherited my father's genes when it comes to hair and that is really one of the worst things that can happen to a girl. I'm actually a gorilla and the amount of work it takes to get that under control is insane. As of now, I've got it down to a minimum because I am flat out sick of doing all that crap and decided that my partner will have to accept me as I am. (for the most part anyway) Unfortunately, my self consciousness regarding my amount of hair down there worried me the most yesterday.
I do manage general deforestation followed by a regeneration harvest because I think it's for the best. I know it's very popular to pay someone a lot of money to rip out everything and cause a wildfire of discomfort followed by getting to look like you are nine years old again, but that is not for me. Some of my friends prefer this look and feeling and that's fine for them, but I do not and think it's pretty yucky overall. In fact it's got to be linked to a gross male fantasy/expectation caused by porn. And if so, why are you sleeping with those dudes anyway? Regardless, due to the popularity of this ridiculousness, I feared that I would be the only one with undergrowth of the naked ladies in the room.
Luckily, there were far more Janes of the jungle than Barbie bikinis and I was quickly put as ease regarding that aspect of things. It's so stupid to assume that you're the only one with anything in any situation ever. Of the handful of us that were there, no one had a perfect body because oh yeah. They don't exist! Why do we ever convince ourselves that they do? Every body out there has some type of flaw whether we can see it or not.
Of course, in this situation you do see everything. And it's weird because you want to avert your eyes but you can't really. If you open the door to either the steam or sauna, bam! There they are. Breasts and bush and everything: legs open, legs closed, legs up the wall. I started out trying to get the towel to cover my every part but of course it wasn't long enough. Something had to come out. And then eventually you'll want to lie down so the towel had to go underneath. And then you'll definitely want to use the freezing cold shower for a minute so you've got to stand there naked in front of everyone.
Admittedly I saw a perfect pair of breasts and they were completely astonishing. Obviously these weren't attached to a perfect body overall, but the boobs were magnificent and I almost didn't believe my eyes. They were the perky type that didn't fall to the sides when laying down. They weren't small but not large either. They had this amazingly circular shape. It reminded me of seeing some actress's top halves in movies and I wondered if they got cast for their breast perfection. These are the things that go through your mind when you're sweating out your brains and delirium might be settling in.
As it turned out, nudity isn't that big a deal and you do get over it. It's possible that Americans are a little more conscious to the desires of personal space, because at this spa there was zero conversation and that added to my comfort level. There was a little bit of locker room chat but no one sat around there naked. There was one person that worked the front desk and she came by to mop or check temperature and what not, but that was it. It was a perfectly serene environment with lovely soft music playing in the background. I became unabashed with my lack of towel and felt relieved, grateful, healthy and happy with the way I spent my day. It was a fantastic birthday present to myself. I felt so good by the time I got home that anyone could have told me World War Three started and I would have said simply, "OK" and gone to bed.