Yes indeedy, that is I… bathing in a tub resplendent with rose petals. This was about… God I think maybe ten years ago now… in a hotel somewhere in Oman.
I was going through some old photos on Facebook when I found this one.
It was born around the era us millennials will come to know as that time we stopped loitering outside Boots eating Monster Munch till our photos were printed, stopped sticking them in albums to be remembered forever and started posting them online and losing them, and never ever remembering them again.
So I thought, once a week from now until the pictures run out, I shall dredge such photos back up and re-live those times in my life out loud. A new photo album with rambling captions. Maybe it will remind me how far I’ve come.
Maybe it will remind me I need to take a bath and leave the house at least once a week (#amwriting)
So… Oman. I was with an ex at the time. A man who in my mind remains an International Man of Many Mysteries and Secrets, who’d pick me up and whisk me off to romantic destinations, the likes of which I’d have never seen without him. I put them in my books – all those places.
Sometimes I put him in my books too. This is what we do to those who’ve inspired us along the way I suppose, who’ve challenged and excited us and angered us and urged something deep inside of us to bud and bloom and HURT and heal and grow.
We romanticise the shit out of these people in the pages of our stories, and then when they start doing dastardly things again we kill them. Or… we let them off the hook, ensure they learn any lessons by the final chapter and set them free; which is usually setting something free inside us, too.
Anyway. That was deep. Wow… I drifted off. Almost like I did in that bathtub. The hotel staff ran it for us. I remember, we’d just got off the plane in Oman and they called the driver of the fancy car they’d sent to collect us, and asked him something. I think they asked him to tell them when we were close enough that they could start to run our bath.
They wanted to make sure it was hot when we climbed in.
I would think of that 5-star service later, on my solo trip across South America, when no rich ex or editor would book me into a posh hotel, and I’d rock up in a dorm room reeking of six odorous backpackers from Germany, one of whom had just pissed on his mattress in his sleep (true story).
I’d think of the way those petals smelled when I lowered my naked body into that frothy bed of bubbles.
I’d dream of the steaming, rose-scented water fogging up the marble bathroom in places of sin and squalor, like the shit-smeared tiled cubicle I found in place of a bathroom in a Bolivian national park. Like when I was crouched over a seatless toilet in a chicken coop on an Ayahuasca retreat in the depths of the Amazon rainforest.
How quickly a life can change, I would think. How crazy is this whole adventure?!
I think I wrote an article about this hotel for some magazine at the time. It was likely focused on the bath. It likely went nothing like this:
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU’RE LYING IN A BATH OF ROSE PETALS
- This feels so nice
- How many roses died so I could have this bath?
- Who were these roses named after, because aren’t all roses named after someone?
- I bet I don’t look as sexy as I think I do right now but who cares?
- Maybe these flowers care. I’m boiling them alive. They’re literally suffocating in these pretentious bubbles.
- I should just smile for the camera. I feel bad for all the souls I’m boiling alive so I might as well remember this humbling moment.
I know it didn’t go anything like that, because the staff at the hotel wouldn’t have liked that and I was commissioned to write only nice things, useful things, things that wouldn’t add stress to any posh hotel’s PR Department.
Oh, man, Oman. Those were some of the strangest, most decadent days of my entire life to date. I always knew they would be.
I knew it wouldn’t last forever, none of it, not the 5-star luxury lifestyle, not the loaded future Mills & Boon hero, International Man of Many Mysteries and Secrets, who’d whisk me around the world for flower petal baths in marble bathrooms.
Secretly, I don’t think I really wanted it all to last. You have to keep moving in the end, don’t you?
That’s what I told myself. There’s always another adventure in your future; something else to enjoy or endure that’s meant to keep you blooming and growing. It’s so important not to get stuck.
Looking at this photo, actually, thinking back to all those days I was spoiled and pampered just because of the job I did and the places I lived and the man I was dating, I realise I never really enjoyed that feeling at the time; the feeling of being ‘rich’ for no reason or purpose. Maybe that was why I really left all that.
I’m grateful to have tasted wealth but the older I get, the more I want to truly deserve it.
OK. That came out more like a story than a blog post. I think I may have embellished a couple things… but whatever, maybe I’ll put it in a book. More ‘That Time I…’ later, I have so many photos waiting to bring more memories and feelings (and urges to clean myself and leave the flat) to the surface. We should all do this, by the way. It’s very therapeutic.