I’m buying a hot tub. I can’t believe it. I’m really going to do it. All my life I have wanted a hot tub. As a kid I couldn’t understand why every grown-up who could didn’t have one. I’d dig ditches and my sweet father would line them with plastic sheets and boil pot after pot of hot water and dump it in. Once, when I had the chicken pox, I spent an entire week in the bath: talking on the phone, eating, and doing homework.
I spent my twenties seeking soaking: from Osento–that funky women-only spa with the naked sunbathing deck in the middle of The Mission, to Sykes, Cougar, Big Caliente, and the free Berkeley hot tub in someone’s backyard, accessible if you had a friend who knew the code. One salty foggy morning a friend led me down the cliffs near Stinson Beach, where we were greeted by a steamy spring full of jubilant hippies, a gathering only possible at the full moon’s super low tides. Another quiet early morning outside of Taos a lover and I descended some steep cliffs to the Rio Grande to share a spring with an old Indian man, soaking his arthritic legs after a previous day of hunting. Gradually other folks came by to talk about the moose seen earlier, a rare and auspicious occurrence that created a sense of temporary but sacred community.
My thirties were a dry time full of striving towards adulthood: I don’t even think I took baths. I got married, completed my doctorate, bought and remodeled remodeled a home, got a career staff position in a counseling center, and had a baby. At thirty-five I began to feel like a ghost and spent the second half of that decade trying to shed the trappings of adulthood that didn’t fit me: an unhealthy marriage, high-stress full-time employment with little autonomy, and house-poor home ownership.
Why Not Now?
Now I’m 41. “Middle Aged.” Someday has arrived and I’m done with seeking approval or permission from some nebulous authority. Who is the authority? Am I the authority? Am I a grownup? I think I’m a grownup!
I’ve started asking “Why not now?” If there’s something missing, is there a way I can make it happen with the resources I currently have? For example: the Garden Starship. I love our 600 square foot home but wish we had a guest room. I found myself not fully living here now thinking, “Someday I’ll have a home with a guest room, then life will really be grand!” But why not now? Could we now? We got a 1968 Aloha trailer off Craigslist and painted it orange with purple stars. Sometimes the littlest things–for me, putting herb-flower-feather arrangements on neatly folded towels–can be deeply fulfilling. We put the trailer on AirBnB and now there’s a significant inflow of money that allows me to invest more in my home. It makes practical sense now to spend money and time gardening and even practical sense to buy a hot tub!
During my Saturn Return I used The Artists Way to work my way out of the turmoil that also met the criteria for a depressive episode. One writing exercise asks you to choose five imaginary lives. A few of mine: cowgirl, singer/songwriter, mermaid, therapist. Therapist was the only one that made practical sense. That career path had never crossed my mind but it felt right intuitively and I went for it. I have never regretted it and it has been deeply fulfilling. Until now I haven’t thought to ask for more, but what if I can fulfill in some form all the diverse and myriad parts of me? Like be wild and independent (my interpretation of a cowgirl), make up songs on the ukelele, and be a mermaid in a hot tub? And so my friends, I leave you with this:
Make space in your life for daydreams then listen to them. There might be a modest way for them to take form here now. You are the authority. Is there a step you can take? Maybe it’s not so crazy. Maybe you can.