Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Getting Steamed and Cooling Off

I guess I've grown too accustomed to my serene Virginia meditation spots.

The autumn is always a stressful time for me. Many deadlines in the Art World, ungodly amounts of travel and, of course, there’s the beast of November: the Marathon. I thought it would be a good idea to head down to the 10th Street Baths for a relaxing steam.

It was a cold and damp Monday and many others must have had the same idea. In fact, it was packed—not enough room to stretch and very claustrophobic. Sweaty, damp tiles, hot, with many people, and no room on the benches: it turns out that there’s a very fine line between a relaxing spa and a bad subway commute. I was starting to get steamed alright. Really stressed out, the opposite of why I go there.

Finally, I snapped at a guy. He was telling me not to steal his friend’s seat when I was actually just reaching for my water bottle; and I let him know that with a very sharp rebuke. He was rightly shocked and I apologized right away. He didn’t deserve my venom and I told him so.

Then I slinked off and found a quiet corner and forced myself to take a deep breath and accept my surroundings and enjoy the company of so many interesting and obviously healthy people. It was what I should have done right from the start.

As time went on, it started to seem less crowded. Either people left to go have dinner or something inside me changed. In any case, I had a very relaxing visit with plenty of deep breathing, good stretching, and healing dips in the cold bath.

I can still feel the benefit a week later.

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