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“Standing naked in a pool of her clothing”

Passager Magazine

Winter 2009

        At the Gyeongju Spa, I walked down the steps into the largest pool. A chubby woman came over, took my hand, and led me to a pulsating waterfall. She stood under the waterfall with her head down while the jets of water battered her shoulders.  Then she gestured to me and watched while I stood under the pounding water.  She took my hand again and led me to a spot where water spurted just below the surface, turned her back, scrunched down, and moved her body back and forth through the streams of water.  Once again, she watched as I imitated her.  At another spot, she floated on her stomach and let the churning water bounce her body in the bubbles. Then I did the same, riding the waves like a jellyfish.  After a while, she patted my shoulder, said something I didn’t understand, and left. The next day when I returned to the spa, she was soaking in the hot pool.  We smiled and waved like old neighbors greeting one another over the back fence. 

        The outdoor pool at the Gyenogju Spa nestled in a rock garden surrounded by a tall stone fence with purple and white hibiscus growing out of the cracks. I walked up steps to a patio with a bubbling hot pool and lounge chairs.  I soaked in the hot pool and then sat at its edge feeling the sun warm my back. I could hear bees buzzing around the flowers, a cuckoo bird in the rustling leaves, and the whoosh of the waterfall hitting the pool below.  Overhead, puffy white clouds drifted across a brilliant blue sky and a soft breeze caressed my bare skin. The moment was so s pleasant that I intended enjoy it, even if it meant ignoring my mother’s command Get back inside and put on your clothes. Are you crazy?

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