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  • Kristan Higgins

Relax already

I went to a conference in Chicago last week, and I had the best time! Seeing my writer friends, this time not being a speaker or workshop presenter, just being an attendee, drifting through the conference, punctuating the day with meals with my friends and a lovely book signing at Anderson’s in Naperville, IL, one of the greatest bookstores in America.



And then there was the spa.


Oh, yes. This hotel had a spa. And because it has been a long, hot, somewhat stressful summer of finishing a book, hosting a huge family reunion, the never-ending house projects and the usual life stuff, I decided to get a meditational sound massage. It sounded ridiculously self indulgent and with that extra frou-frou weirdness, and I couldn’t sign up fast enough.


A word about meditation and me. I love it. I believe in it. I often fall asleep…sorry, I mean I often achieve such a deep state of altered consciousness in which I can, er, explore my dreams. Massage my aching back and meditate somehow? Also, there was something about sound healing in the description. Yes. Check. I’m in.



The spa was quite gigantic and had a steam room and a relaxation room and different kinds of tea. By tea, I mean tasteless, dirty water that smells pretty and is allegedly made from flowers. I trotted into the relaxation room wearing a soft, luxurious bathrobe, and threw myself into a chaise lounge chair, sipped the nasty tea because that is what one does when one is at a spa, I guess. "Relax, Higgins," I told myself. Should have brought my computer so I could work a little, but no, no, that wasn't the point, was it?


Enter the goddess known as Dorothy, a tall, elegant woman who looked strong enough to tackle my cement-like shoulders. We chatted a minute, and then onto the massage table went I. She came in a moment later, asked if I wanted hot stones (yes, of course, doesn’t everyone, and what do they do again, but why not) and aromatherapy. Sure! I didn’t know aromatherapy was essentially room freshener, but it was eucalyptus, which reminds me of koala bears, so yes! Granted, the room spray and hot rocks would add significantly to my tab, but I didn’t know that then, and ignorance is bliss.



Dorothy tapped a gong or rang a bell—I was face down on the table, so I wasn’t sure what it was—and the massage began. In the background was the sound of rain, or the ocean, or a stream. Water, at any rate. Within seconds,


I fell asleep. Or no, not really. I fell almost asleep, rousing a little when I heard myself snore. Dorothy didn’t talk. I didn’t either, because I had turned into a liquid state, or a mist state, or I was in astral projection. In other words, I have never been so relaxed in my life. Time ceased to exist. I also ceased to exist. Is this what dying is like? the last functioning part of my brain wondered. If so, bring it on!



Eventually, Dorothy left the room and told me to take my time. I fell back asleep, then, realizing I would have to leave someday, reluctantly got off the table, put the silky robe back on and went out in the hall to thank Dorothy, who was now elevated in my mind to the likes of the Buddha (assuming he had strong hands). “I’ll never forget you, Dorothy,” I said. I wanted to hug her, but she was too impressive for that, so I just floated down the hall to change back into my regular clothes, totally chill for the rest of the day. And for a type A Yankee mom with a work ethic that would terrify Thomas Edison, being chill is really quite something.

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