define “spa”

I got a wonderful, lavish present from my mom and my sister in honor of my upcoming Large Birthday Event. I’ll be 50 on the first of July, you see. It’s pretty nifty to have acquired half a century of time and experience—I’m stoked, as we used to say back in the far-off-times that were my teen years in the 1980s.

They decided upon a joint sleepover at the Destination Spa not far from my house… “not far” as in “don’t have to fly to that Destination the way other people do.” (I suppose, come to think on it, were my daughters to choose to marry in Austin, we might bill that as a Destination Wedding without the airfare. Hmmm!) We’d never done anything like that, just the three of us, so the novelty as well as the lavishness appealed.

They sat us in the “living room” and handed us glasses of water with our release forms. They parked our car. They whisked our belongings away to our room, which overlooked the river. They handed us spa shoes (comfy, squishy flip-flops) and water bottles. And that was all in the first half-hour! Anywhere we wandered, we could pick up what appealed, and set it down when it didn’t. Unless it was one of the few things that wasn’t included, in which case we simply mentioned our room number. I understand this is much like what happens on big cruises—I haven’t tried one of those yet—and it was very pleasant.

As were the meals, the scrubby massage I requested, the bubbles in the bathroom, the chaises by the upper outdoor pool. (The workout was pretty much what I usually do with my trainer, which paradoxically made me feel even more swank.)

One of my big goals for this trip, however, was to sit and read. You might not think that would take effort on my part, and you’d be right, except that we were doing this as the three of us together, and my mom has many thoughts and many words and probably doesn’t have sufficient avenues for them to get their proper airings. (Thoughts, like puppies, require exercise.) Reading is not especially compatible with this.

We achieved a pleasing balance, she and I, as we reclined on the chaises in the cabana… I’d read a little from my magazine of book reviews, she’d talk a little, I’d mention a little from what I was reading, which she would expand on… . I think she was making an effort to give me room to read. (M. was dozing in the air-conditioned “living room” all this while, which is what she most wanted to do.)

It was a lush, lavish, relaxing, charming treat. We were a touch sad to be heading out at 4pm Friday to return to our spouses, but perhaps not a lot. Certainly my mom struggles to relax in the ways other people find easy, and the wealth of activities available to us sorely tempted her to fill All. The. Moments. Indeed, more of our moments had activities in them than otherwise—M. and I also found it required restraint to keep the (mostly) easy flow of scheduled time and traversing time we ended up with. (There was a bit of a squeeze between Friday-lunch and the boat tour that we were unable to smooth away.)

So it surprised me a little bit but not a lot when I woke Saturday and realized that I was not going to go garden for an hour before the day got hot. Instead, I was going to make measurable inroads into The Found and the Lost, a collection of novellas by one of my most beloved authors.

And that, friends, is what completely refreshed and rejuvenated me. I love a sybaritic session with scented oils, but climbing into others’ complex worlds both soothes and stretches my brain. I woke this morning with four different essay ideas, worked out for an hour and a half, laid out the map of my week, and even arrived here with you.


A comfortable recliner set so my arms don’t get tired, temperate air, and a full supply of reading material. That’s my perfect spa.

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