Alone in a Crowd

Lest you feel sorry for me and my sad ordinary-day birthday post from last week, I did want to mention that the day before that, as part of an extended birthday celebration, I went to the Nordik Spa in Gatineau Park for the first time.

I was TERRIFIED of going there, because I had literally NO idea what one does at a spa, and new places that involve driving for a long time and then doing weird body things in an open air environment is pretty much my worst nightmare ever. But I had been given a gift certificate by the lovely, lovely readers at this past year’s Blog Out Loud and I didn’t want to let them down. Plus, I am kind of, in a half-assed lukewarm kind of way, trying to force myself to have new experiences in an, “Hey, you’re a writer, you need to LIVE LIFE” kind of thing.

So I picked a Tuesday because they have a nice package that includes lunch, and off I went.

I was going to write an all-about-the-spa post here (truth: I spent most of my time there mentally composing blog posts about the experience, it’s how I process). Now that I have been once I clearly know EVERYTHING there is to know about spas and can share my deep knowledge with the world. But really I just want to talk about one thing that surprised me, and it’s this: I actually didn’t like the quiet.

The Nordik Spa has three zones, one where you must be absolutely silent, one where you can whisper, and one that’s meant for open socializing. Pretty much the only thing that made me actually go there was the dream of a silent area, a place where I could sit for hours in a nice hot tub and listen to a tinkly waterfall and just have QUIET. It seemed like the ideal situation for an introvert like me.

But it turned out I felt really uncomfortable there. My mind couldn’t settle down – it was just bouncing around thinking about all the things I should be doing instead, and how weird my butt looked in this bathing suit, and am I doing the whole spa-hot-cool-cycle thing right, and whether everyone else was staring at me. I just felt awkward and self-conscious and out of place.

So I started touring around and trying all the other hot tubs, and I was shocked to find that the one I liked best was the one in the social area. Even though I was there alone, I needed the chattering sound of people around me. And I have to say, if this isn’t too weird, I just LOVED listening in on the little conversations around me – just little stuff like the details of an upcoming move, or a comparison of night clubs visited this week, or how a good deal on a new car was scored. I found I could easily block out that noise if I wanted to and just drift, thinking about nothing, or I could listen in with my eyes closed and it was a welcome, soothing distraction.

There’s a saying, isn’t there, about there’s nothing more lonely than being alone in a crowd. But I think there’s surprising comfort to be had among a group of strangers, a human connection that made me feel safe, and like I belonged, and able to finally relax.

Unfortunately I only had about a half hour in that last hot tub before I had to get out, in order to eat in time to be back to pick up the kids from school. Lunch, by the way, was divine – delicious, and someone else made it, and I didn’t have to fret about allergic reactions. I read my book and ate my very own little apple pie for dessert and thought to myself, I should go out for lunch on my own more often.

At a nice crowded cafe, of course, with lots of buzzy conversations to listen in on.

5 thoughts on “Alone in a Crowd

  1. smothermother

    i was there on Friday. A yearly adventure with one of my girls from back home. I love it, but noticed it was much more crowded this year. One thing I know for me is it takes at least 3 hours before I can finally relax, for my brain to stop running in all directions. it took longer than that this time. but by the end of the 8 hours (yep, was there that long and it didn’t seem more than a few!) i’m mush. and it’s wonderful. but we never go to the silent area. we are chatters and always get shushed.

    1. I did think that probably I spent too little time there. I was trying to squeeze it in on a school day and as such I only really had a couple of hours of pool time before I had to grab lunch and then go. I still have some $$ left on my gift card so guess that means I’ll have to give it a second try – will definitely do a weekend next time so I can have the full experience!

  2. Claudette

    You know we must be related or something…it took me YEARS to feel comfortable enough to even GO to a spa, let alone get a treatment. And like you, this whole relaxing business is just so hard….who has time to relax? lol

    My sils invited me years ago to a spa downtown, which was lovely in a foreign, so-not-me kind of way. They treated me to a variety of things including a body massage (I to this day do not find them particularly comfortable or relaxing), a manicure (huh? me with my hands in raw meat and kitchen sinks all day? covered in laundry soap?), and a facial. So the facial I liked best and have since figured out to do this small little treat at a nearby local spa. It’s short, sweet, and I book the appointment during a time of the month when I know I’m icky and blah and on a day when he works from home so I can do it during my tired time (afternoon) and he can pick up the kids, not my active time (mornings), and finally, FINALLY, I’m able to actually look forward to it. A little me-time.

    The other spa thing? I think I enjoyed the lunch with my two sils the best. The rest was….meh.


  3. Zhu

    Based on what you are describing… yep, you should definitely try the twenty-minute coffee break trick 😉

    I have always wanted to try Le Nordik but I never had the chance. It’s far (relatively speaking…) and I was just confused about what it offered exactly.

  4. mdavis94538

    It’s amazing that at our age we can still learn something new about ourselves. Life is full of surprises, isn’t it?

    I think most, if not all, parents, share your difficulty with relaxing. There’s a guy at work who is very big on meditation (does it 2 hours a day when he can – seriously!) and recommends trying 15 minutes a day, but I just don’t know how I could ever settle my mind down quickly enough to take advantage of 15 minutes. I suppose I should just give it a try though.

    Anyway, this was a fascinating post. Go NaBloPoMo – these posts are gold, Lynn, I’m tellin’ ya – gold!

Comments are closed.