Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Getting Ready for My Birthday

I was born on the fourth of July and it's been a really great birthday to have--always a holiday with fireworks, swimming, and family picnics and barbeques. I've had my share of delicous, gray cakes--the ones where the red, white, and blue all run together--too. This year I realized I had some tidying up to do before my birthday--a big one. I still had leftover presents from previous years. My two sons gave me a gift certificate for a mud bath and massage at Calistoga last year. Somehow, the whole year has flown by without my making time to enjoy this luscious gift. So I went yesterday. The massage was terrific. The mud bath was, well, interesting. I can see why couples might like to do this. It would have been nice to have a friend or my husband there to yuk it up while sinking into the sulfuric-smelling, hot, buoyant, dark gray, well yes--mud.

"How do you sterilize this mud?" I asked. The question had obviously been asked a thousand times because the answer was quick and efficient.

"We run water in there that's a zillion degrees and then drain it and half the mud drains out so we have to replace it." OK, I thought and slid in. I guess the new dirt is clean.

"What does this mud do for you?" I asked the next time the attendant came in to put a cold cloth on my brow.

"Opens the pores," he said, as though that were a very good thing. Remember, I was submerged by this time in the mud, totally covered by the slimy goo.

After slinging my leg over the tub edge and extricating myself from the gray sludge, I took a shower and soaked in a jacuzzi. The attendant then led me to a dark room to rest under blankets, to "cool down, "and contemplate my coming big birthday. My pores were wide open and I was relaxed. So I pulled out the The Namesake. Two years ago, I received the book from a friend for my birthday. It has high time I'd read it. What a wonderful, lyrical, prodical son (or daughter) story. Hey, I'd moved from rural Georgia to New York City and then to California with no family around. It wasn't half-way around the world away (Calcutta to Boston in the book) but sometimes it's felt like an entire world away. And I too have realized that understanding and appreciating my roots can make what was previously an embarrassment transform into a treasure. Great book--why did it take me so long to read it? Great massage and mud bath? Why did it take me so long to use that gift certificate?

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