Heaven and the Flipside

July 21, 2010 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

“How far to heaven? Just open your eyes and look. You are in heaven.” – Shankar

The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The quote above, which came from a prompt in this week’s Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, brought many images to my mind, including family, a lazy day reading, a musical performance, an incredible meal.

Eventually, though, I landed on this photo. If you’ve been to Iceland, I’m sure you recognize the location – the Blue Lagoon, a spa and bathing facility developed from the “geothermal seawater that originates in Iceland’s extreme environment.”

The Blue Lagoon (and much of Iceland for that matter) has an ethereal, other-worldly quality to it as it is. And on the day I took this photo, the cloud-smeared sky, the peaceful quiet, and the salty, minerally, perfectly heated waters of the lagoon truly added up to heaven.

But there’s another reason I chose this photo. Not only does the Blue Lagoon evoke a feeling of heaven on earth, in my experience, it also gives you a good taste of the flipside.

When my friend Jeanne and I visited Iceland, the Blue Lagoon was literally our last stop. From there, we were headed to the airport. With all of our Iceland adventures still fresh in our minds – riding Viking horses through lava fields, staying up all night because the sun never sets, drinking the unbelievably pure spring water that flows directly from the tap,  and of course, spending a little time in the Ice Bar – the Blue Lagoon seemed like the perfect ending to a perfect trip.

Ice Bar, Iceland

Here’s the thing.

The salty, minerally water of the Blue Lagoon is great for your skin but not so much for your hair. You have to hit the locker room afterwards to shampoo the minerals out of your hair; otherwise it will become a sticky, tangly mess. It was in the locker room where heaven on earth quickly turned upside down.

The locker room was filled with wall-to-wall women from around the world who’d also come to the Blue Lagoon the day we visited. And they all seemed to be, well, less modest, than Jeanne and me.

After the tranquil, relaxing hour we’d just experienced, we were thrown into a mass of flesh, heat, noise and chaos. Hairdryers blowing, myriad languages colliding, a faintly antiseptic smell, the battle for a spot near a mirror and away from the all the lumpy naked women who were everywhere (seriously, people, a little modesty is not a bad thing!).

beer bottleIn the midst of it all, I lost Jeanne. I figured she was handling it much better than I was. And in a way, she was. Turns out, she’d gotten out of there as fast as she could and made it down to the café. I found her tightly clutching a Viking beer, trying to get out of mental hell and marveling at how quickly relaxation can go out the window.

Jeanne and I don’t live in the same town any more, so we don’t get to see each other as much as we used to, but we still laugh about that experience and offer each other a virtual Viking beer whenever a stressful situation arises.

Iceland, the Blue Lagoon

In the end, I guess that’s another little slice of heaven we’ll always share. Not such a bad thing after all.

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Entry filed under: Best Friends, Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. Tags: .

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