The sauna has become a sanctuary for me. For 20 minutes a day--sick or semi-sick--I go there: body brush in hand, book in bag, keys clutched in my right fist. It is a quiet place, free of distraction. A place where the toxins stir up and melt away. A place where pain goes to battle. I love that place and I treasure it most when I can have it alone, free from large, naked women and chattering girls.
As I approached today, I knew I would not be so lucky. Pain crept in my neck, as I pulled open the heavy sealed door. Cackles and laughter spilled out. Unable to return later, I surrendered. I nudged into a small corner, laid out my towel, and sat down.
"You're having too much fun for a sauna," I commented to the loud blond with the large diamond in her nose.
"You haven't seen anything yet," she said, as though challenged.
Moments later, an elderly woman steps in. She's frail, armed with a bottle of body lotion. Within minutes, Miss Diamond lifts one butt cheek in the air. A loud noise, a cross between a rhino and water cooler, escapes from her bowels.
"Please tell me you are not farting in here," I say pointedly, with a look of disgust.
"I can't help it. It happens after I swim," she says, laughing. "They don't smell."
The two playmates giggle. The old woman leaves. I sit, shaking my head.
The shenanigans continue. Talks of what $3,000 bike to buy. Where to go to breakfast. How to spend the holidays. And, of course, more farting.
I debate jumping in. I debate pointing out how disruptive and self-absorbed they are. I debate telling them how some people aren't here to warm up after a swim and that this is therapy. I debate lecturing how, even if she can't help it, she can leave the room. I debate telling them I'm sick.
Instead, I stay quiet.
"Sorry," the girl apologizes again as she lets one go. "I feel sorry for you," the friend says to Miss D. "It must hurt to keep them in."
In that moment, I experience a storm of emotions: Angry, Self-Righteous, Demeaning, Punishing. For a second, I want those girls to hurt--not for their bad manners, but for their ignorance. People are dying in Japan. People are sick. People are suffering and they have nothing better to talk about than bikes, boys, and gas.
I hate those girls, and I envy them.
Altered Today: Observing instead of reacting. Living into my new law.