Yesterday I ran away from home.
Several weeks of design and conference calls from my home office left everything in my home except the bunnies feeling un-nested, un-scented and without the feel of home.
As I drove to a very tiny little town called Sulpher Hot Springs I could almost smell the amber sanctuary of the earthly minerals in the car. I imagined pulling up to Christmas ligthts and the smell of wood smoke; a few skiers enjoying some mulled wine by the fire wrapped in warm cotton blankets and babbling the way people can when they find deep relaxation. Oh yes, I was certain I was headed toward the red river of freedom for a day. The kind of day that would give me energy for the intense month of design work ahead.
The drive from Boulder through the gorgeous windy roads near Golden, the tunnels and then up highway 40 turbaned with patches of snow, skiers taking any available run on the side of the road. I must say was one of the most inspiring drives I’ve ever had. Sipping on my double late (I had beg for whole milk this time. ‘Get that fat free milk out of your hand! You trying to tell me something Bubba?’) and munching on some homemade banana bread seeing these vistas and this road for the first time–yeah, it was a slice of ‘so good to be alive and so good to be here in Colorado’ for sure.
I thought about my acupuncturist. Damn it hurts when he sticks those needles into my hand. “Everyone needs a little S & M in their life, right?” I found myself saying out loud to him, although I thought for sure I only said it inside my own head. He laughed. I was a bit mortified. But I haven’t had a meaningful date in a year so strange things come out of my mouth sometimes. Luckily laughter, is a sort of forgiveness. But I thought about how amazing it is. How one day I feel all caddywompus (thank you Shireesh, I love that word) and I have swimmers ear and then after seeing the needle doctor I’m driving to Hot Sulpher Springs and feeling great, even after weeks of stress, and no earache.
And I thought about the little Auburn haired Newfoundland puppy that I will give a fabulous home to when I get him. His name is Oliver but I don’t think he’s born yet or even conceived. I’ve called about a dozen breeders, and considered many options but am holding out for little Oliver who is destined to be spoiled by a fellow redhead and dominated by a little macho rabbit named Dakota. Now I’m pretty sure that as my car swayed this way and that, coiling through the Rocky Mountains, while the stars made their way to their reunion with the sky that I was heard in my little prayer for Oliver. I’m fairly certain he’s thinking about me too. All the lakes I’ll take him to and the people he will meet and how weird he will think I am as I struggle or dance to solve a design problem.
Okay but now to the conclusion of the story. The knotted knickers part. (Yes, people really do wear knickers even when the destination is hot pools that emerge from the snowy earth).
When I drove up, the place looked very cozy, as I’d imagined.
As I walked in I was a little surprised by very loud, WalMart style Xmas music, the Motel 6 feeling architecture and the loud voice of a man at the front desk speaking not so nicely to someone on the phone. I checked in for my massage and went to sit down. I didn’t know if I would do the pools given the drive back required a little tension. Wet noodles shouldn’t get behind the wheel. : )
Anyway, the man on the phone approached me in the waiting room. “You need to pay for the services ahead of time. No pay, no service!” “But I don’t know what services I’ll want, or what tip I’ll leave. It’s pretty standard to pay after the services.” I had never been asked to pay ahead in a situation like this so I was confused. And he looked mean. “You don’t pay, you need to get out” he said. The other man in the waiting room looked at me like he was confused by this man’s behavior in a place of holy relaxation.
So I exited. It was hard to get into this place, honestly. It was okay with me. The drive there made the day for me.
As I left he said, “fine but I’m still charging your credit card.” My cell phone had no reception at Hot Sulpher Springs. So I stopped at a nearby restaurant. A man who looked like he came out of an episode of Twin Peaks approached me. There was 2 people in the restaurant. The pay phone was out of order.
“I need three things, food, a phone and the fastest route back to Boulder.”
“Why not eat here?” he said.
“Well, I’m in a rush.” I suppose I wanted to find a place with cell phone reception. Not to call anyone in particular but to feel like I wasn’t in the Hotel California.
He said “you have 3 minutes on my phone, 3 minutes! After that I will cut you off. I can’t do it, do you understand?”
I was wondering at this point if this town was in one of those haunted places reality shows. And now my knickers were starting to seriously knot!
“Okay” I said. I called my credit card company–the one that I used to reserve the massage, but he cut the line just as I was giving them my name. As I left the restaurant I listened hard for that ringing off the hook sound. I wanted to feel a little bad for tying up his line so the experience could be somewhat real. I’m sure that it had happened one day way back, the restaurant was packed, he had call waiting then, and the phone didn’t stop.
I stopped and had a glass of wine at a local grill on the way out of town. I chatted with the host about how they made all those animal heads on the wall look so peaceful at the moment of death. How did they do that? Some kind of hunter’s version of restorative art. But he wasn’t a hunter. He was a peaceful man and we both swallowed hard at the fact of these animals. I told him about Hot Sulpher Springs. He said that I should have impersonated a local. It’s true, I had my flourescent orange scarf on and little rose clips in my hair, tall boots and a bright “spoil me at your hotsprings because I’m so tired from work” look on my face.
Context. Context. Context.
The night got better. The stars filled the crevices of the valley’s I drove through. The moon made the turbans of white snow look like silver rivers and a man in a local ski pub at Winter Park bought me a cup of coffee and wished me a safe drive home.
Dakota? He wasn’t sympathetic. ‘Serves you right for leaving me in the first place’.