We moved into this house 21 years ago. I was pregnant with my second child, and the world seemed full of promise and possibilities. We were young, and strong and full of hope. We imagined such an amazing future!
At that time, so long ago, this neighborhood was a new development in a rural town. That town was poised on the brink, ready to embrace the westward march of big technology companies. We thought that we had come here just as the area was about to surge forward into prosperity. We thought that we would be in the vanguard of young professionals to discover this beautiful and undeveloped place. We thought that middle class suburban life would follow us out here. We were wrong.
Within a few years of our arrival, the economy began to struggle, and the gentrification of the rural part of our state started to contract back toward the big cities in the east. The “boom” that we had anticipated stopped just ten miles from our border. Our town continued to struggle with its finances, trying to pave roads, pay for schools and keep police and firemen in place in a small town with no commercial tax base.
We have scaled back our own economic dreams as our town’s economy has suffered. When we moved here, we thought that perhaps we would be able to sell this modest home one day and move into something more impressive. We thought that maybe we would be able to move closer to the city, to culture, to our family, to excitement.
When we moved here, way back when we were young, we had big dreams of improving our house and our land. We thought about enclosing our deck, adding an addition, perhaps putting in a hot tub.
Many years have gone by. Our kids have grown up and moved out. The early dreams of ornate tree houses and fabulous playrooms are gone. The plan to build another bedroom in our basement is no longer relevant. The idea of selling for a profit died out with the collapse of the housing market, and the foreclosure of the house next door.
We are here for the duration it would seem. Unable to sell, unable to afford major improvements. The kids no longer needing the shelter of our roof, our dreams no longer tied to their pleasure.
And so here we are, an aging couple in our aging home. Yeeha.
Four weeks ago, at long last, we put a hot tub on our deck. What else could we do?
I thought when we did it that it would be my husband who would get the most pleasure from its existence. I thought that he would soak and relax and thoroughly enjoy finally having this one decadent and frivolous toy.
I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong…..
I am the one who is completely enthralled by the sensuous pleasure of a late night soak under the stars. I am the one who spends all day looking forward to my half hour of blissful self-indulgence before I go to bed. I love my hot tub. Totally.
I have found that I am completely at peace when I am floating in its warm embrace. I can’t multi-task in the tub. I can’t read, or correct papers, or make a call, or check my email. All I can do is float, and sigh, and feel my skin and my muscles and my bones. I can only lie back and gaze at the stars and the moon, dreaming and feeling, with no coherent thoughts to mar my pleasure. It is my half hour of total surrender, and it is miraculous.
I don’t live in a beautiful beach house where I can hear the waves all night. I don’t own a gorgeous home with a manicured lawn and thriving gardens. I will never move to the city to enjoy the music and art and intellectual life.
I am stuck in the woods, in a small and suffering town, with unpaved roads, empty homes and dying businesses.
But every night before I sleep, I can slip off my robe, sink into the steamy warmth of my hot tub, and let go of every worry and care.
Sometimes dreams come true in the strangest ways.