I see naked white people…with no tan lines.
I suppose a few years back, roaming around nude may have contributed to some capillary constriction (I lie, my personality has never encapsulated blushing) but certainly common embarrassment. Remember my forays into the Korean Spa and my first body wrap? The all female spa forced nudity, and after a few exposures, I no longer felt awkward dropping the robe and showing all, revealing me to the world. In a way, it was an uncovering of all the ways I deny my body or berate my limitations. But I’d never been to a co-ed sauna…especially one where the explanation or rules conveyed themselves in foreign tongue. In the first days of 2010, however, I visited two of them. Frozen like a popsicle and still dismayed over the theft of my camera, and a bit over anxious, these indoor saunas beckoned hours of reprieve from such stress. Don’t you assume that time off from normal routines, from responsibility and a full regular work schedule equates relaxation? And yet, that’s not always the case. My brother had been visiting for almost two weeks, and I twittered between feeling ageless (during my first pub crawl), intrigued (visiting a 10th century pre-Roman city) satisfied (sipping Lambrusco and apple stuffed tenderloin) but also anxious (“I am spending too much money) guilty (“I am not working enough”) and pressured (“we should be doing something special!”) So the saunas…uber-popular with the Europeans, you are required to go in your b-day suit…and when they say sauna, they mean the works. At Tropical Islands, everything was explained in German. This indoor theme park contained a section just for us goody nudey-s. In one room, a dry sauna about 65 C, a technician walked in, locked the door, and proceeded to throw aromatherapy salts into the hot coals, and then fan her towel around us for a few minutes before adding a new scent. Talk about Bath and Body Works. My favorite area involved a scrub treatment. Imagine skinny old me, in a glass room naked, trying to look but not stare at the strangers around me to figure out that I needed to sit for 10 minutes in the steam, then scrub this divine coffee-avocado yogurt mixture on me, sit for another 15 as it penetrated and slid, and then wash it off with hoses that miraculously surfaced from the air. SUPER SILKY results? Must have dug the experience because a few days later, with my brother visiting 2000 old Roman Bath House, I plowed out more cash for a spa in Baden Baden. This one had 3 different dry saunas of different temps and humidity, 4 different steam rooms of scents and salts, whirlpools, sun lounging chairs, foot baths, solariums. In the middle of the work week, super indulging. I refuse to be ashamed or embarrassed by my body in this setting. So strange, then, that still sometimes, even at 30, with clothes that I’ve forked out hundreds of bucks on, I wonder how others judge me, and thus in that practice, judge myself. Fabric, so close to Fabrication. So I confess. I find my public nakedness more freeing than my private one. Nudey feels Nice. It’s not that I don’t want to be weighed down. It’s not that I don’t want to be heavy. It’s that I want to simplify without being simple. And embrace this essential me. I smell task #1 drawing near.