The Water

Jade is in town, and we went to the spa the other day.  Which, also, was not a spa at all, really.  It was…baths.

There is a place in Tribeca on Franklin Street called AIRE, which is sort-of like the Corinthia Spa in London — which is a reference that few people understand, except yuppie asshole nomads like me.  That is, yuppie asshole nomads who make reference to the tiles around the pool at the old Mandarin in Hong Kong, and the spa at the Corinthia in London, and the way that the bridge in Lisbon looks like the Golden Gate, and the way my friend N says You bloody Americans, always thinking that things look like things in America…oh, yes, that does look just like San Francisco.

I digress.

And I have been in a peculiar state of involuntary stasis lately — so I have sought water.  Hence the sensory deprivation chamber; hence the AIRE baths.

I am a Pisces; a water sign.  I can’t help myself.

There are, surprisingly — or unsurprisingly, depending upon the parties to the conversation — a number of bath houses in New York City.  By which I mean, like, two or three.  And I mean that in a non-skeevy, non-Chelsea way since they’ve cracked down on most of That — though if you’re looking for skeevy, there are places on the Lower East Side where you can take a steam and also catch ringworm, if that’s your thing.

(For the uninitiated, ringworm is not actually a worm.  It’s a fungal infection that presents in a ring-shape.  For some reason, when I was living in California and playing tennis five days a week, I picked it up all the time from tennis balls — as if to prove the point that the East Coast was safer than the West; indoor tennis was safer than outdoor; like I was a character from the Los Angeles scenes from a Woody Allen film.)

(Again, I digress.)

So we went to AIRE on Sunday.  The concept was:  you booked a two hour time-slot and you had full run of the basement of the building, which was lit by candles and was a series of soaking pools of varying temperatures.  One of the baths was a heavily salted pool meant for floating and this appealed to me based on my experience the weekend prior in the sensory deprivation tank.


(Photo via Well + Good)

The clientele was primarily young American couples, and some European couples with the dudes decked out in what my Australian friends refer to as budgie smugglers.  Those things were retina-searing in both their brightness and tightness. 

Jade and I appeared to be one of two sets of girlfriends.  Which was fine.  Except the snuggling couples quickly evacuated any pool into which we dipped.  Whatever.  More water for us.

It was a quiet, meditative experience — just fire and water.  Humid; warm.  I suppose I could’ve just stayed home, and lit the feuilles de lavande candle in my bathroom, poured some epsom salt in the tub, drawn a bath and called it a day without paying $70 for the privilege of being blinded by a fellow in a neon speedo.  But there is something about the water that soothes my soul.

I talk a lot about my Life in Constant Motion.  But right now, and for the past few months, my life has been in a very strange state of standing still.

Because I began this post with a moment of being a yuppie asshole, indulge me as I end on the same note.  I do a lot of yoga, and I sometimes forget that each sequence in the sun salutation begins and ends with standing stillness.  In the water, on Sunday, as I remained completely still, I recalled that the point of the stillness is to return to the core of the practice before launching into the next iteration of the sequence.

So.  What had seemed like months of static torture was really just tadasana; Samasthiti; mountain pose. 


What was upsetting, though, was that I had paid $70 to achieve that revelation while floating in a pool in the basement of a Tribeca bath, whereas tens of thousands of dollars in therapy over the years had never even gotten me close to the mark.

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