I got engaged. While I’m incredibly happy about this, I still feel like an impostor when I write it—like it is something that only other people do. So when I lost my ring in a pile of red clay balls yesterday, and had to say out loud, “I lost my engagement ring” it sounded like it was coming from someone else’s mouth.
Last month in Istanbul I met one of Julie’s (my business partner/roommate/friend) friends, Sarah, who came to visit her. It was Sarah who bestowed the descriptor of “Heterosexual Life Partners” on me and Julie. Sarah lives in Washington D.C. , and while we were in Turkey, we compared notes about one of our favorite places—Spa World in Centreville, VA. While I’m visiting my family this week, we decided to go.
The last time I went to Spa World was in January with my sister’s entire family, some friends, and my fiancée (did I just write that?) who freaked out and had to leave because the common room in this Korean Bath house reminded him of a prison/refugee camp/mental institution. I can see why, as everyone is clad in orange, shapeless pajamas and lolling about on the floor in a large, fluorescent-lit room.
But I love it because this common room also contains a delicious Korean restaurant, bubble tea, and several healing poultice rooms. One such room is the Red Clay Ball room. Outside each room is posted the health and psychic benefits of each element (coal, salt, amethyst, cobalt, red clay), but what it boils down to is sweat. Of course you are going to remove toxins from your body if you spend any amount of time in 150 degree temperatures.
Sarah hadn’t been in the Red Clay Ball room before. The entire floor is 6cm deep in 1cm diameter clay balls. It is difficult to enter on foot, and I attempted to show her how to crawl through the balls to get to the spot where you want to lay down. While doing this, I felt my diamond and emerald engagement ring being pulled off and into the sea of balls.
Uh-oh. So immediately I alerted Sarah, and we started digging. After five minutes of searching, we still hadn’t found and I felt like I would faint. I went to notify the attendant , hoping that he might shut off the heat for a second while we looked so we didn’t turn into mummies in the process. He wouldn’t, but he would come help us look. Once the other people in the room understood what was happening, they all joined in to help—which involved all of us shifting mounds of clay balls from side to side with a crunching, rockslide sound.
It was so hot and the extraneous movement of pushing clay balls caused everyone to sweat even more (if that’s possible), but no one was giving up. Once and awhile one of us would mistake the glistening of a bead of sweat that had fallen on the balls as a diamond and yell, “I found it! oh. . . “
Finally, a beautiful green-eyed girl with long blond hair, named Katherine held it up—“Got it!” Sweaty sighs of relief. Exiting the room, we were asked by some baffled onlookers, “What was going on in there? Is that what you are supposed to do in that room?” As if it was some sort of zen ball-shifting ritual.
And I’m thinking that perhaps it should be. The people who helped me did it out of kindness, but during that 15 minutes of torture I was thinking only of Arni and the fact that he had given me a ring and I had said, “yes”.