I am a woman whose love language is touch, and as a single woman–let alone as a reverend–it’s been a big black vortex of emptiness in my life. It’s always present. Sometimes it’s entwined lightly enough I can ignore it or rationalize it away, but other times it feels more like Davy Jones’ Kraken–the sea monster that has wrapped its tendrils around me and is about to break me, throwing me into its devouring, insatiable maw.
Okay. Maybe that was a tad bit dramatic, but I do feel emotionally starved sometimes. When I end up dating someone and he holds me, I know I turn into a bit of an insatiable monster myself, trying to fill that emotional emptiness that’s been aching for so long. Memo to myself and the reader: This is not healthy.
But how do I meet that need of touch, of emotional input, when so many of the necessary boundaries of my vocation make that impossible? I’ve tried dancing, aikido–and have had friends actually suggest guys not as prospective boyfriends but as cuddle buddies. Suffice it to say, all this has left me still wanting (and rolling my eyes).
Enter salvation: The Korean Spa.
For the first time in my life, I find myself emotionally filled, calm, and whole. No more Kraken. And although I’m doing my fair share of online dating, it has nothing to do with those men.
With the cost-cutting incentive of a Groupon, and our bodies and souls in need of real sabbath and some serious TLC, a clergy friend and I went to Spa World–the Korean Spa in Centreville, VA. Do not be fooled by its strip mall location, this place is the heaven on earth we pray for every Sunday.
Let me take you on a tour:
Enter through the glass doors and walk down the hallway to meet a female version of Peter. Heaven costs $35 this side of Christ’s return, but don’t worry–you’re storing up treasure in the right kind of place. You won’t receive a pair of wings or long flowing white robe, but you will get a cute prison-like uniform. That’s for the co-ed section of the spa. Drop your shoes off in a cubicle–the first shedding of outside baggage and get ready for more transformation.
Totem pole like statues and arches mark the next stage of your journey into utter happiness. Enter the locker rooms; find the number that matches your wrist key. Take a deep breath: it’s time to return the glory of God’s initial creation–nudity is mandatory. And don’t even think about bringing a fig leaf. If you want a salt body scrub (the answer is yes, for an extra $50–again storing up good treasure) sign in with the ladies. You’ll recognize them immediately–the middle aged women wearing black lace bras and underwear; yes, that is their uniform. Remember to soak in the hot tub for a full half hour before your scrub!
Grab a towel from the rack to your right, and enter paradise. Shampoo, conditioner, and soap are provided in showers–be sure and wash down for cleanliness-godliness sake. (Lots of women bring in a tooth brush for this part too.) Then, enter the bade pool: nine different stations of water jet therapy for every part of your body while you stand, sit or float. There are also three hot tubs, a cold pool and shower, a steam and dry sauna, infra-red rest area, and then the scrubbing stations. If you didn’t order a body scrub, you can scrub yourself or a friend at these low sinks with flexible nozzle sprays (the kind at some kitchen sinks).
The salt scrub: naked on a plastic massage table, and you start facing up, then turn to your side, stomach, other side, sit up for a bit, and back down. The women put on exfoliation mitts and scrub you down–inner thighs, ankles, necks, breasts, everything. It is the most invigorating–rough yet gentle (the oil and rinse parts)–experience ever. Talk about touch. This was like nothing I’d ever experienced–I just gave my body over to someone who scrubbed it down and took care of me, and let me tell you I couldn’t stop touching myself afterwards; my skin was as smooth as a baby’s cheek!
By now you’re going to be hungry. So, don that uniform, walk across heated floors, and get yourself to the Korean restaurant and juice bar. In this co-ed area is a nap room, gym, arcade, wi-fi area, couches and chairs, massage area, and seven poultice saunas. Pick from salt, blue onyx, charcoal, gem, red clay, even ice (the walls are literally sheets of ice). My favorite is the red clay ball sauna–a room full of little red clay balls that you bury yourself in–like a spa version of a kid’s ball pen.
Just so you know, the $35 cover gives you 24 consecutive hours in this spa, and there are men’s and women’s sleeping rooms with sleeping cushions and blankets. Spa world, like heaven, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
My friend and I kept looking at one another, saying “Where has this been all our lives?” Here is a retreat with naked time–time to be in my body, where it’s a normal, natural, “no big deal” thing. It is the most empowering and sustaining experience I have had yet. And I know as grateful as I am, so will future significant others be–because I’ve finally found a way tame the Kraken and satisfy my emotional hunger. I’m no longer stuck in a one way vocational output mode. I have a place where I am fed and rejuvenated, body and soul.
Thank you, Spa World, for giving me the health and wholeness I need.