This is a story about that time I was wet and naked, far from home. (No, not THAT story). This is a really short story that I’m gonna make super long. And I’m going to switch my tenses a lot because that is just how I tell a long story and I’m not getting graded on this.
So, Iceland is kinda this place that everyone wants to go (for good reason) and anyone who has been wants to return (also for good reason). It’s totally trending in the last few years, which is why I realized I needed to go asap because it is becoming entirely too cool a destination for someone who likes solitude as much as I do. I plan to write much more about Iceland later. Anyway, as with most trends, there are also trends within a trend and one of the biggies in the land of ice and fire is THE BLUE LAGOON (cue the violin music with a edgy electronic background).
Imagine aqua blue warm toasty soul and body healing waters placed like a jewel literally among a never ending of rocks. Like, lots of rocks. I”ll let you look it up…seriously, just google it.
What travelers sometimes don’t talk about it is nakedness in such places. No, it’s not a swimsuit optional kinda place: I’m talking the strip down and get nekkid so you can take somewhat public showers among your new friends. There are literally dozens and dozens of discussions and articles about this out there because American women tend to be a little self conscious about our bodies and nudity. I’m not gonna get into that right now, cuz that’s not the point here; I’m just giving background so you can join me in my head space on this journey.
So, after two days of travel, including getting stranded in New Jersey and losing my luggage, I arrive in Iceland a day late and several dollars short. Thankfully, the Blue Lagoon graciously postponed my appointment a day for me so I could keep my “just off the plane and can’t wait for a soak” appointment. I cannot wait for these soothing holy waters (and the free champagne that comes with the exorbitant price of entry). I know it’ll be crowded and I’ll be cramming my extra jiggling fat body into a bikini, but kinda don’t really give a shit. Cuz healing waters! As is customary and required, I disrobe (that’s clinical speak for “get naked”) and toss my stuff in a locker, locking it with my fancy do-hookie-5x-too-big-electronic bracelet that is my magic ticket to all things around the lagoon (and has been clearly worn by close to 17 bazillion other tourists since 1987). I slip and slide towards the showers, get scrubbed off, put that fancy conditioner that is supposed to stop your hair from falling off in, squeeze into bikini, and grab my one alloted towel and jiggle towards the lagoon. Apparently, my locker room is on the second floor, so I come out into a big 2 story lounge area that is instantly loud, chaotic, and full of other mostly naked and dripping tourists from around the world. I pretend to wrap my measly 1 allotted towel around me because I’m cold and not because I’m suddenly acutely aware of being a lone fat old mostly naked woman with at least 73 eyes on me (if you do the math, that is 36 people and that one pirate with only 1 eye). I saunter-slide my way down the stairs with total (fake) confidence and strut my stuff outside into hurricane force winds and rain, and then lean into the wind to hang up my towel and pretend not to hurry towards the beckoning warm healing (and body covering) waters.
I ease (slip and slide) my way into the blue water. Oh.My.God. Heavenly. The water is so warm and welcoming and the perfect haven against the gale force typhoon around me. The next 92 minutes are perfection. Bliss. They even have proseco instead of champagne free(included) with my magic bracelet. Seriously, HEAVEN AMIDST VOLCANIC ROCK, folks.
Fast forward the 92 minutes when I start to realize I can’t stay here forever. I couldn’t care less about mud masks and all the weird spa stuff that I don’t really understand, but I’m Iceland so I might as well experience all the free stuff (i.e. included in exorbitant price of entry) they have to offer. Get my weird gooey face mask, enjoy that for at least 18% of the time they tell you to enjoy it, and start to wash it off. This is when I realize wearing contacts was a huge mistake on my part. Yes, I knew this from all my previous research, but I knew my glasses would fog up and didn’t want to be blind because that is a super vulnerable feeling. But the face mask has now become an eye mask and it all has to be flushed out. My contacts disappear, along with any ability to see where I was going. Great. But I must go on…because the whole can’t stay here forever part. So, I feel my way back to my entry point, take a big sigh, and pull myself out of the loving arms of the lagoon and into the world of windstorm and judging eyes. I fumble my way to my towel rack, looking forward to covering another 1/15th of my ample ass with my one allotted towel; only to discover, my towel isn’t there. Panic. In fact, no one’s towels are there. (insert more panic here). The storm had claimed every single towel in the area in it’s windy greed. Not great, but Ok, I got this. I don’t know these people on the other side of the world: so I just traipse my dripping shivering self conscious self through the throngs of gorgeous women and hairy men,blindly stumble back up some stairs I found, and tentatively stepped into a locker room after feeling the sign to determine that it seemed to at least be for those who identify as women. My mostly naked self follows a familiar wall along to the showers. Yes, I managed to even find the correct locker room section in my blind as a bat state! Feeling much better, I strip off the measly bikini and enjoy a delightfully hot steamy shower, taking extra time to really wash and wring out the swimsuit as they instruct you to do. My vision is foggy, I’m now totally naked, and I haven’t solved the issue of how to dry off without my one allotted towel yet, but at least I’m close to my locker and my glasses and glorious clothes. Sigh. Blissful, hot shower, free (included in price) fancy conditioner so my hair won’t turn to straw, safety of my stuff in sight (well, not MY sight, but close enough). But I can’t stay here forever either.
So I head towards my locker and safety with soaked bikini in hand and try to ignore the thought that this short journey would be more comfortable with my one allotted towel around a quarter of my body, scan my magic bracelet to pop my locker, and….NOTHING happens. Um, I can’t open my locker. The magic is gone. And I see a blurry paper on my locker. I lean in and squint read “We found your locker open, so we closed it for you. Please find a member of management.” deep breath. Wait. OMG. EVERYTHING I HAVE is, or WAS, in that locker! I don’t have luggage (that was spending extra time in New Jersey); I only have the clothes on my back, EXCEPT THEY AREN’T ON MY BACK! OMG, my debit cards and my passport were in that locker! This is when it dawns on me that because I came straight from the airport, I hadn’t had time to separate out forms of ID and various methods of money like I always do and it had all been in that locker. So if someone stole my shit, I’m up shit creek with no paddle. Or money. Or food. Or vision. Or way to get home. AND OH MY GOD, I AM NAKED!
Let’s pause here to take a moment to truly imagine this moment. Wait, since that requires picturing me naked; how about take a moment to empathize with all the panic I am feeling at the time. Right? Ya feel me?
Deep breathe. Slow your roll, girl. First things first. Ok, gotta “find management.” And maybe even find another allotted towel. Ok, bikini kinda half back on (we all know how it works trying to put a soaked, wring into a ball, swimsuit back on in a hurry). I basically just adopted a cover the bits that’ll get you arrested and let everything else hang out attitude here. Ya gotta prioritize when you are problem solving. I still can’t see, but I feel my way through a room, out a door into the busy din, around a corner or hallway or something and find myself a member of management (translate, someone with a key and an extra towel). I bump into her; this gorgeous woman who is now my best friend; and explain my situation. She responds nonchalantly, “of course” as she hands me an extra towel and weaves her back through all the other not quite as naked as me people. Nonchalance, “of course”….like this happens all the time. Turns out, this happens all the time.
At that moment, it happened. The giggles. I mean, the awkward, hilarious, girly, unrelenting giggles. I giggled my way back to my locker, I giggled in relief when she opened my locker and everything was still there, I giggled and jiggled as I dried off and re-robed (that’s clinical speak for putting my clothes back on), giggled my glasses on, and giggled my way out to begin my journey of a lifetime in the land of ice and fire and nakedness and giggles.
And I’m giggling my way through writing this. Sometimes life’s journey is one of adventure, fear, bravey, heartbreak, and bliss. Sometimes it’s just the giggles.