Last week I was just exhausted. Physically and mentally zapped. I had to get away from potty training and time outs. I needed sleep and relaxation. I needed to flee.
Unfortunately, I decided I’d leave for the weekend on Wednesday. I wanted to go up to wine country but everywhere was booked, except for super expensive places, and I did not want to spend $800 a night to have to have to bring makeup and order over-priced room service.
So, I went somewhere that didn’t even require me to bring clothes. I know, I know, I know. And yes, it’s a really hippie-cult sort of place. But it’s beautiful, pretty inexpensive, and I had been there many moons ago with my pal Olivia, so I thought I’d be able to take it.
But there is a lot to take. First of all, (and I’m not going to mention the place, but a quick Google search will easily avail all to it), their claim to fame, besides having natural hot springs, is that they are the inventors of Watsu. “Watsu?!!!” you ask incredulously. Yes, Watsu. A brief explanation will say that it’s a combination of floating in water with a shiatsu massage. In reality, it’s a hairy naked dude cradling you in his arms while you float, also naked, in a tepid pool, while said hairy naked dude swishes you around and says “It’s alright, it’s okay,” in a creepy whisper.
But, like I said, it’s beautiful there, and there’s no phones, no t.v., plenty of yoga classes, and I’m fairly skilled at shunning people, so I decided to give it a shot and leave the kids with Jack for the weekend.
So I drive up into the mountains above Calistoga, and I check in, and am delighted to escape the San Francisco summer fog, but I’m starving. So I go to the hippie market there and buy a kombucha and an organic salad with Hemp “ranch” dressing, and then I realize that there are no free tables. I realize that I’m actually going to have to ask to share a table with someone, and that they are probably going to talk to me.
But I gotta eat my hemp salad. So I ask to sit next to the most benign and undreadlocked person, who is this elderly, fully-clothed caucasian gentleman. And of course, he starts talking to me.
I can tell right away that he has some kind of impairment, but then he tells me that he’s had a few brain tumors removed, and I actually do really feel like I am a jerk for thinking I’m so much better than all the people at this place and that I really need to be grateful for all that I have, and that interacting with people that I normally wouldn’t is great for my stress levels.
Then the man tells me of his business plan.
“So,” he says, “We are going to start a business where autistic children not only conceive of what the business will be, but they will actually run it.”
The acidity of the kombucha caught in my throat, and my eyes began to water as I tried to think of an idea with less chance for success. I mean, really, I wish the old guy all the luck in the world, and I certainly hope that children with autism receive attention and assistance. BUT WHAAAAAA?????!!!!!!! Even if you wanted, CHILDREN PERIOD, to conceive and develop a business proposal, what kind of farkakte plan do you think you’re gonna end up with?!!! I’m sorry, but as un p.c. as it is, I cannot imagine what a document of corporate bylaws would resemble when written by AUTISTIC CHILDREN. Let’s not even get into the service, or product, or financial management ability, etc. etc., ad infinitum.
So I was even more determined to make it through my hippie weekend with the least amount of human interaction possible.
Luckily, in the co-ed dressing rooms by the pools there are necklaces with beads on them that when sported, are supposed to tell people that one is in a state of silent meditation and that one should not be bothered with conversation. I find this to be perfect, although in my mind it is less of a meditation bead than an F-Off bead.
I mean, being nude in a pool with a bunch of nude strangers is one thing, but talking to them? I don’t think so.
I had also planned a few other defenses beyond the “bead of meditation”. For example, when wearing clothes, I wore all black and not the regular Nor-Cal hot-spring sartorial-assemblage of Chi pants mixed with prints resembling barfing rainbows.
Speaking of rainbows, instead of sitting behind a book title in public like “Rainbow Warrior”, or “Path of Enlightenment”, or “Gentle Journey”, or “The Enlightened Gentle Rainbow Journey of the Goddess Warrior”, I decided to read only Baudelaire’s “Flowers of Evil”, or Christopher Hitchens’ “Arguably”. Hey, it did the trick.
Still, I had some close calls. While walking through the garden I took a wrong turn and ended up in a clearing with a fence in front of me, and to the right, a naked chick swinging in a hammock by two dudes, both naked, (natch), one who was playing bongo drums and singing reggae. I don’t know about you, but when I see a naked white man playing the bongos and singing reggae, I immediately throw up a little bit in my mouth.
I stood there for a moment wondering where I could go and the girl says,
I said, “Oh, it looks like I can’t get through this way…”
And she said, “Oh, I guess you’ll just have to stay here with us!!!!!!!”
I tried not to let my face fall in despair, but it obviously did, because they immediately gave me directions out of there.
Now I did participate in a lot of yoga. I mean, in my opinion, one should not throw out the hippie-baby with the bong water. Yoga is a great stress reliever and I’ve enjoyed it through the years. But I should have known that taking yoga classes in a temple that looks like what Paul Madonna would come up with if he took acid and collaborated with the Tatooine Tusken Raiders, would, at times, chaff a little.
So in one of the classes the instructor begins by asking, “What are you desirous of in your practice today? What areas should we explore?”
No one says anything for a while, and she keeps asking, and my lower back has been killing me from hefting kids all around so I say, “Uh, lower back work?”
And she says, “Lower back WORK?! Hmmmmm. I’m going to just reframe that, okay. Let’s say were going to ENJOY some lower back SUPPORT.”
Fine. Support. Whatever.
“Anything else?” she asks.
Then this overly tan dude in the back says, “Bubbling Bliss!”
The instructor smiles and closes her eyes and says, “Bubbling Blisssssssssssssss.”
I wanted to go back and strangle the tan dude with his batiked sarong.
And the instructor in the first three of the classes I took (and they were CLASSES, NOT JOURNEYS!!!) kept reminding us to focus our energies on the Bhrumadhye Drishti, which, being from San Francisco, I know as the third eye. And that’s fine. It helps relax the optic nerve, steadies balance, helps with focus, etc.
But then there was a different instructor for the fourth class and she opened by saying,
“So I’ve been reading a lot of stories about the Hindu goddesses, and in one of them when the goddess opens her third eye, universes are destroyed. So lets be careful with that energy.”
Fabulous. Now I’m responsible for destroying several UNIVERSES. Crap.
At that point I anti-namaste’d everyone in the room with my mind. I mean, I had to.
And yet, through all of that, I did end up enjoying my weekend. I got to only take care of myself. I got plenty of sleep. I sat alone on a bench and watched a deer with her fawn and wild turkey with her chicks in the quiet.
In a lot of ways, it was like my college days at U.C. Santa Cruz. You wake up, see some wildlife, go to yoga, eat delicious organic food, do some reading, avoid the naked people and the hippies and go back to your quiet bedroom in the woods.
But enough is enough.
As a crowd was CHANTING in the temple, I turned on my car to go home, and what song began to play on the radio at that point? Sham 69’s “If The Kids Are United.”. There’s nothing like Oi to cleanse the vestigial hippie right out of you. That song coming on just then? It felt cosmic.