There's a square hole in the wall with a handle and magnetic closure. Soon I'll crouch through into a dark water filled room. If I'm not careful I could hit my head on the ceiling. The water is ten inches deep and has a high enough concentration of salt to make any human body a buoy. But first, I have to shower, per regulation and for sanitation. I take a "before" selfie. I'm feeling eager, excited, and a little nervous.
I climb into the tank gripping the railing to keep from slipping on the floor of the tub and attempt to slip into the water gracefully as I was advised. I reach behind my head and switch the light. The first few moments I try to evaluate how I feel. Am I comfortable? Relaxed? Am I moving? Why am I so dizzy? Immediately I felt like I was going around a lazy river at Summer Waves. I had to know I was still in control of this situation. I had watched several videos assuring me that this best part of this whole ordeal is that ultimately the person inside the tank is still in control. I grip the sides of the tub, to make sure I wasn't actually in some elaborate indoor lazy river. Then I had to check the light still worked and that there was still in fact a door.
It took me a minute.
I quickly realized that I had in no way stayed stationary. I found a wall and clumsily followed it around, bobbing, dipping and slipping along the way. I found the railing and tried to not be frantic in my search for the switch. Light!
I'm still in control. I'm still in a tub in a hole in the wall. A very fancy hole. A very fancy tub.
I switched the light off again this time more confident. I closed my eyes. In all of the instructions and videos I watched no one talked about what exactly you're supposed to think about. I surround myself with noise. Always music, a show or movie humming in the background, but in this scenario I'm stripped of sound with earplugs in. Trapped.
So I spend a while thinking about my body. Am I comfortable? I'm tense and weird. And I waste a lot of time adjusting and rearranging. A level of comfort is reached and now I have to think something profound. So I panic and berate myself. A fail safe. I convince myself that I'm messing up. I am in some way screwing up floating in a tank. Pro tip: If you're floating in a tank designed for flotation, you're doing it right.
Then my brain does that thing where it goes in hyper drive. Suddenly I'm in the lazy river again trying to convince myself that at the end of the lazy river is a waterfall and YOU MIGHT DIE in the indoor waterfall tank. Then I'm writing this story in my head. I am actually narrating the experience as if it has already happened IN MY HEAD. Then I berate myself again because this isn't an authentic experience if I narrate myself!
I try to slow down.
I breathe. Deep in and outs. I start saying carpe diem in my head in the beats of my breath. I replay that scene from Dead Poets Society because I'm 20 and that movie is still meaningful to me and I like the sound of Robin Williams voice and the old photographs and everyone simultaneously thinking “WHAT AM I" because I too feel "WHAT AM I" because I'm 20. And then my deep in and outs are a little more forced.
And suddenly I can't breathe. There's no air in this tank. They are suffocating me. I can't breathe. Holy. Holy. Here in this tank is where I die AGAIN.
I try to slow myself down again. I stretch every appendage and re-relax. This time I tell myself I'm going to sleep and I go through the process I go through before shut eye. I say a prayer, lots of thank yous. I set up conversation scenarios and imagine my future or what I hope my future will be. I always throw in some drama, so it seems more real.
AND THEN I decide that it would be a great idea if I flipped over on my stomach. Because I sleep on my stomach. One: it's hard to flip over in ten inches of bouncy water. Two: I disregard the fact that if I get a drop of this water in my eye it will burn like the flames of Hell. Three: Swimming on your tummy is easy, floating? Yeah, no. Don't do it.
I manage to keep my eyes dry but I get water in my mouth. It is nasty. The water tastes like the periodic table, gross and it might kill me. This is the third thought of probable death, if you need help counting. Also my lips are chapped.
I flip like fish until I'm in the correct position. The recommended position. I keep scrunching my left side, so a few times I have to remind myself to relax. I continue the bedtime brain. I relax. My muscles twitch and jump in response. The walls of the tub feel foreign when I bump against them. I can't feel the water on my hands.
Chills raise on my skin. I open my eyes. I can see the walls around me, but they're more angled and much closer and there's a smoke detector in here? Is there room even to sit up? I'm getting chilly. This is the first time I'm cold. I sit up. I hear music. I lay back in the water and melodic nature sounds are vibrating through the water. This is my cue.
Exiting the tank was quite an adventure. I haven't supported my body for 90 minutes. Standing upright is too hard so I Quasimodo my way through the door into the outer room where the shower is. I brace myself against the door. There's a motion sensor in the room, but it ain't lightin' up. I have to shuffle under where I think it is and wiggle around until it decides I'm here and I exist, which honestly, at this point, even I'm confused about. I go back to shower and try to remember how to work it. I stand under the heat lamp until I figure out the shower. The motion sensor decides I'm not real again and flips off. I agree and try again to convince it I'm real again.
|making an honest effort to look normal|
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This whole experience was provided by Jeff, one of my greatest friends. He sent me a link to a video. I told him I totally would do it because he seemed really pumped about it and why not? While I was in the tank, I wondered if he was “doing it right” and having fun or whatever is supposed to be happening. This was one of the strangest, coolest experiences I've ever had. Thanks for making this happen. Thanks for making me uncomfortable.