Monday, April 4, 2011

Face/Off (Part 1)

Despite the lack of snow, or maybe because of it, this winter has been the house guest who long ago wore out his welcome. I can hardly wait to show him the way out, to cut off his rambling goodbye with a perfunctory smile while slamming the door in his face.

For weeks now, I've been feeling the urge to shed my winter skin, to force all my sweaters into exile and banish the downy mountain of winter coats to the loft. Despite the lingering chill in the air, I would gladly brave a little discomfort for a pretty pedicure and pair of peep-toe pumps. No doubt, when the full brunt of the sweltering Virginia summer hits, I'll be pining for crisp nights, fire pits, and a flurry or two.  But for now, I'm tired of fighting the dog for the random patch of sunshine that occasionally warms my office for a few hours in the afternoon.

I'm ready for full-time spring.

So, in the spirit of renewal, I am three sessions into a series of six chemical peels. After all, nothing says "spring" like spreading a layer of lactic acid over your face while you try to see how long you can stand the burn.

I kid.

I am lucky enough to have found a wonderful gal to come treat my tired face at home, so for the last few Mondays, I've raced back from taking the girls to ballet to find Tiffany waiting for me. She sets up a makeshift salon in my family room. The colors in that room are soothing and perfectly suited for relaxing: salmon-colored walls, and a deep, dark, plum sofa. Tiffany drapes the couch with crisp white sheets while I put on the Pandora "spa" station to complete the atmosphere.  Of course, instead of aromatherapy candles and a hushed tone, my spa features the scent of chicken-nuggets and an endless stream of commentary from my kids, eating dinner and observing me from the kitchen, just a few feet away.

The first week, Tiffany asked me if I had ever had a facial before. I had. Once. It was part of an elaborate spa experience. And it was such a disaster, I had never dared try it again.

In 2005, during another fit of intolerance towards winter, my husband and I set off for a week at Aventura Palace in Mexico. The resort was gorgeous, the sun was bright, and the spa menu was amazing! We decided to spring for a 4-hour, luxury, Golden Spa treatment for couples. 

We thought we would be together the entire time, but we started off separately. I was ushered into the women's hydrotherapy area, while Anthony disappeared into the men's. I really wasn't sure what was going to happen here; I was just looking forward to the massage later.

The first stop was the steam room. I felt okay going into the smallish, stone space. I could vaguely see the shape of a few other women through the swirling fog as I took a seat in the corner. The attendant looked at me and said "You be okay." Was she asking me or telling me? I'm not sure, but she must have seen something disconcerting in my eyes, because as soon as she shut the steam room door, I realized something important about myself: I'm a little claustrophobic.

Suddenly, I was not at all  happy to be in a marble tomb and breathing in thick, hot air I could see. No, I needed to get out of here and quickly. But despite the overwhelming desire to escape, my new-found claustrophobia was no match for a lifetime of determined avoidance of humiliation.  I didn't move. I sat in the corner, tried to will the attendant to come back, and stared at the door wishing I could blast it open with the force of my mind like Jean Grey.

The attendant did come back after ten minutes or so. I speak about a Dora the Explorer level of Spanish and this dear woman had an equivalent proficiency in English, so she led me to a clear glass shower stall, took my towel, and prodded me inside, gesturing for me to turn on the water as she shut the door. I was hit with a blast of icy water that shocked my hot skin and sent me, screaming, against the glass. Judging by the way my torturer averted her eyes and giggled behind the hand that had flown up to her mouth when I shrieked, this was no pretty sight.

From there, dips into three increasingly hot whirlpools reminded me, painfully, that I had severely sunburned my knees (and only my knees) the day before.  The hydrotherapy room was a bust. I tried to shake off my disappointment (and embarrassment) as I joined back up with Anthony and we were taken by golf-cart to the private cabana for the remainder of our treatments.

The little cabana sat over a clear lagoon with the bright blue Gulf waters churning just past the sea wall behind it.  It was a beautiful and perfectly serene setting.  As Anthony and I walked across a little bridge to the door, two spa attendants (and I'm not making this next part up, I swear) threw rose petals in our path.  Oh, surely this is going to be so much better than than the hydrotherapy room, I thought, as I squeezed Anthony's hand and we entered the hut...

1 comment:

megscolaro said...

what happened in the little hut of horrors??!