On Friday night, I went to bed with little interest in my 28th birthday. I was tired from the week of moving to Atlanta and put-putting from state-to-state in order to establish a new and solid footing. In my first week, i’d visited apartment complexes, applied for a new place, saw the initial round of family and friends, went on a date, and worked on a movie set until 2amin 30 degree temperatures and wind. I was done son. DONE. So midnight of Nov. 15 struck, and I sang myself a humble Happy Birthday.
Then again, still softly.
And a few more times, until it felt assuring. I sang myself a few rounds and then thanked all of my known ancestors by name, because they once had birthdays, which have allowed me to have mine.
Saturday morning I woke up and was surprised to feel rather good. Damn good in fact, other than the pains in my neck and back.
I felt a quiet selfishness rise up, and the need to self-celebration. Quickly, I decided to do little things that make me feel good. Part 1: Go to Lenox Mall and roam, because luxury window shopping is indeed one of my favorite past times. No, at this point I didn’t know about Phipps Plaza. I ended up having lunch with a group of strangers – 3 segzy muscular #mens with pretty teeth that made me say “Amen” to myself throughout the meal. They kept me laughing, and obliged me with a picture to capture the moment.
I left there an made a pit stop in Prada. Walking into that salon is like a wonderland! It’s beautiful and serene with a demure luxury. I ran my fingers across a gorgeous and familiar red coat before recognizing that Olivia wore it on Scandal a week earlier. And then the associate gave me praise – “Everyone always recognizes our bags, but you are the first girl to come in here and notice ready-to-wear.” Yes, I felt like a G. I told yall that the Scandal love has never been a drill.
Welcome to JeJu
Part 2: I left Prada and headed up I-85 to JeJu Sauna, an infamous Korean bath house that came highly recommended. I needed a massage badly, and a new cultural experience never hurt nobody. Two birds, one stone. $25 to enter gave me 24 hour access to a number of saunas, specialized heat rooms, and a women only bathhouse. Yes, the hour of indulgence had begun. Let me divulge how I got my entire life…
The women’s bathhouse is like a locker room separated by a glass door. Beyond this door, there are women of all shapes, sizes, and races languishing about in le buff. I peered through the door for a moment, meandering about in my sauna-given outfit for a brief moment of acclamation. But then it hit me to get on with it, and I remembered how gorgeous I look naked…so down came the clothes. I walked across the locker room in my waistbeads like Queen Sheba had finally arrived, and into the bathing room. I’m so glad that i’d waxed…
Several showers, three lounging pools, a dry heat room, a sauna filled with aromatic steam carrying the scent of special herbs, a separate showering space for sitting and scrubbing, and three separate salon for women receiving services. I took a moment to take it all in and read all instructional signs, and then showered before climbing down into a large warm pool. And there I was…naked and swimming with strangers. And it feel great.
Being surrounded by new nudity introduces some hesitation. This too I got over, because there’s a difference between staring and perceiving. There were several children in the room who were happy to go for a swim or play in the water elsewhere. At the sitting showers was a mother with her toddler soon, whom she was bathing with intent as he fidgeted and tried to avoid her determined strokes, as well as a group of Korean great-aunties. In one of the annexed salons, I could see older Korean women in bra and panties scrubbing at women and massaging patrons on padded tables. This is what I’d come for specifically, so I climbed out of the pool and added my assigned number to the waiting board. I waited in the herbal steam room and focused on not suffocating under the condensation when I heard my number called. Oh yes, it was time.
The Main Event
My scrubber spoke little English, but mama didn’t damn need to. Because scrubbed. I mean….my good God, she scrubbed me from bottom to top. I flipped around the table like a fish, while she scrubbed my nude body like refusing scales, schluffing dead matter off in such a way as to produce more dead skin than i’d ever seen. So much skin came off in BALLS that I felt embarrassed. “How am I this dirty!?” But mama CONTINUED scrubbing for at least a half hour. And then she threw buckets of warm water on me to rinse. I was instructed to shower again, and then return. I was excited…it was massage time.
I mounted the table face down, and was pampered for at least an additional hour. Oiled from head to toe, the woman really worked out the kinks i’d built from lugging boxes and driving from state-to-state. She covered my face with cucumbers and a warm towel, washed my hair, and scrubbed my feet. When all of this was done, and she asked me to sit up, she poured a white liquid all over my and began to rub it in. “What’s this?” I asked her. She replied with a heavily accented “Milk!”
Milk, shawty? I’ve gotten scrubbed, rubbed, lathered, slathered and THEN topped off with milk?! Whaaaaat?
How much did this 90 minute trip to Heaven set me back? A whopping $40.
After the scrubbing, lathering, milking and such, I took a nap in one of the dark rooms before cruising the rest of the facility. There was a Korean restaurant that I give a “Perfect 10” for culinary skills, and at least five other heat rooms that I entered just to lie in the floor and say I did. Each heated dome was lined with a different medium for a specified purpose – mud for aching muscles, salt, crystals, and more. I entered each one, lied on my back on a straw mat upon a heated floor, and listened to Memoirs of a Geisha…audiobooks are the truth, y’all. Real thugs listen to books-on-tape.
I ended the day at my sister’s house, sharing egg nog and ice cream with her, my niece, and nephew.
So in conclusion, 28 has a whole new vibe – Be calm. Take care of self. Be frugal. Spend time with family, creating new memories. If this is the theme for the next year, I can rock with it.