Bains Flottants

Part of my trip to Montreal, included a Christmas surprise from Vincent.  I had no idea what it was.  The only information I was given was “you cannot shave your legs on Friday.”  I spoke with my sister about it and she and I decided this meant a fish pedicure–the pedicure where little fish eat dead skin off your feet.  This must be it.

After eating a jambon et fromage croissant at the open indoor market at Montreal, we walked down a street to the surprise.

“I wonder what that blue sign is,” Vincent said.

“Bains Flottants.  Oh my god, we are doing floating baths.  I’ve read about this in my Alexander McCall Smith novel.”

Vincent smiled.

IMG_0278When we go there, it was unreal.  It was like a spa but not quite.  It was more like an institution of relaxation.  We changed our shoes from boots into these funny black sandals.

The rooms were very quiet and attendants shuffled back and forth, bringing people tea or changing the music for each of the rooms.

Then our names were called and I wondered if the woman who was leading us would tell us the directions in English or French.  When we got into the room, she started in French and then asked if I spoke English.  She then continued in English, which made it easier, although less fun.

IMG_0282She told us that we would each have our own room with our own bath and where to put our head and how to change the music.  She asked if we wanted earplugs, but I declined.   Then, she took me to my room and left Vincent in his.

My first thought was, “Ah! A brain coffin!”  Then I took a shower and got into the egg.  I thought, “This is a relaxing egg.  Relax in the egg.  Relax in the egg.”   Then I leaned back into the salty water and my whole body popped up to the surface.  I had ascended into heaven.

I stayed there for an hour and it was lovely.  I thought about all the good things in my life.  I thought about IMG_0283what it’s like to die: maybe it’s like this, not so scary.  I know this is strange, but this is what I thought about.  I felt very calm.  I felt like, I am doing the best I can. I am really having one hell of a life so far.  My mind kind of lifted from conscious thinking to just reaction, like, “Float forward.  Float backward.”  I listened to the music and I relaxed.  I thoroughly and consciously relaxed.  Then there was a long silence and I wondered if it was time to get out.

I showered again and my whole body felt different: much more relaxed.  Then I went out into a hallway and a woman said to me something like “Vous passents?”  or something like that.  I thought she was saying, “Are you done?”  So I said, in English, “I am done.”  I should have said Je suis fini, but I didn’t know if this was correct and usually I check with Vincent before saying French things to people (on the bus I said “That fuck wasn’t that good.”  I meant to say “That poutine wasn’t that good.”  Vincent’s eyes widened and then he corrected me.)

IMG_0296I got a little confused as to where the hairdryers were and ended up in a closet (this makes no sense because she gave me the directions in English).  Anyway, then I had to ask again and I wanted to say, “It’s not that I’m from America.  It’s actually that I’m from another planet.”

I met Vincent for tea after in the salon.  I drank thè vanille and Vincent drank peche.  We then argued about the definition of tea.  What I called herbal tea, is in French, tisone.   This means that it is not actually from the plant, “tea” but rather just herbs.  It is crucially important distinction and definitely, absolutely worth the fifteen minute discussion in the relaxing spa.

It was a unique experience.  I floated both physically and mentally.  The sensation lasted not just the course of the afternoon, but even until now as I write this.  Part of me still floats.

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