A few months ago at a San Antonio Current event, I spun a wheel at a booth and won a free float pod session with Radiance MedSpa. I rarely win anything so I was excited to win a treat I wouldn't explicitly spend money on. I researched float pod (aka sensory depravation tank) sessions a few days before my appointment to get a better idea of what I was getting into.
Alleged benefits of floating include:
The procedure begins with a run-down of instructions and explanation by the attendant. There's a plethora of accessories to use by choice: a swimming cap, ear plugs, and vaseline to cover any cuts that could be irritated by the highly concentrated Epsom salt solution, which is what causes the body to float. The water is cleaned and filtered after every use, but the mandatory shower beforehand ensures body oils and hair build up don't end up in the tank as well.
You can wear a swimsuit, but it's recommended to go nude for maximum effect. There's also the option to play a soundscape or music at different intervals. I chose a "zen meditation" soundscape for the first and last five minutes, and silence in between. For my first float, I wish I had chosen the soundscape the entire way through because the silence made me feel uncomfortable a couple of times to the point I had to remind myself I wasn't drifting away into nothingness. The disassociating experience of mind from body gets pretty intense in pitch black silence.
As the treatment is meant to be done a couple times a week, I can understand where it gets easier to relax and meditate. For most of this first experience, I genuinely enjoyed shutting down all external stimuli. I heard and felt my heartbeat stronger and louder than I've ever encountered before. I let my thoughts roam all over the place and set intentions. I tested my buoyancy and focused on my breathing. There were a couple times I did panic a little, thinking I couldn't breathe in the dark and dampness (the pod stays at a consistent warmth so you never get chilly), but it was easy for me to collect myself once I focused on my breathing again.
Afterwards, I took my time relishing my relaxed state by showering off all of the salt solution and getting ready. Radiance offered so many amenities like various lotions, makeup remover, combs and brushes, and a plush robe I fully took advantage of.
I genuinely enjoyed my float session from start to finish as a great self care practice. It's not something in my budget I would do regularly, but I'm glad I got to try it. I would definitely recommend it for anyone who has tried meditation before and would like to switch the bodily experience up. If you're looking to relax in another way, floating might be for you. There are plenty of specials (not by Radiance) on Groupon now if you're interested in trying while being budget friendly.
I had been single for 3 years, and completely, wholeheartedly disillusioned by men, relationships, and especially dating in the age of Tinder when I met Anthony. Between the situationships that ended up in ghosting (then the haunting with 2 am text messages), dates with people who were sexist or boring or both, figuring out which one of us was more toxic in my last relationship, and gaining more clarity on my sexuality, - my preferences, my relation to religion, and loving my body enough to enjoy it - I had all but given up. I never experienced a wild phase in college because I was in a long-distance, committed relationship at one of the most conservative universities in the country. As a life-long Christian, understanding or embracing anything about my sexuality was relatively taboo; I took these single years, begrudgingly, to get to know myself and understand how I reflected in other people and how they reflected in me.
I traveled alone: to California, Washington D.C., and around Texas. In fear of truly being alone, I spent an unhealthy amount of time with my ex, solely as the best friends we were and nothing more. His influence on new guys I tried dating was helpful at times, and frustrating and confusing (to say the least) at others. I eventually learned new men will say anything to convince you and walk away just as easily once they got bored or were more entertained by a new match. I learned to take what they said at face-value, and stopped searching for alternative meanings in their actions when they said, "I don't want a relationship right now, but I like hanging out with you." I also learned how wrong it is to be the person saying that to someone with no intention of being present the way they deserve. I also prayed a lot during this time - for Creator to show me someone real and honest, smart and compassionate, fun and silly, and who would love just as I am and want to be.
When I met Anthony while interviewing fellow millennials at a MOVE mayoral candidate forum, I was in a place where dating to create a relationship seemed pointless. If the culture shifted to having fun over building a connection, then I guess I could go along with it. I resigned the idea of romance and finding a genuine connection. Some nights I read a book or watched tv, cried a little, and allowed my hopeless romantic heart to briefly believe again. When I was told I'd be interviewing a small business owner about voting and its importance, and walked over to begin, I was surprised to find myself deeply (mostly physically, tbh) attracted in finding out more about him. As I moved to the next group to interview, I gave my friend my business card and told her to pass it to him. On my way home that night, he crossed the street in front of me and I liked the way he walked in a self-assured way. While I was settling down into bed that night, he texted me, and asked if I'd like to join him for a drink. I already had my makeup and pants off, so I declined. We texted every day up to our first date.
When I walked in to meet him, I was a little nervous it wouldn't go well. I had been on several first dates and adopted my best friend's mentality to have fun instead of setting wild expectations like I typically did. I'm glad I went in with a clear mind and heart space because the date ended up exceeding any expectations I would have set. He made me laugh within 5 minutes. We watched the Spurs game and drank beer before cuddling up on a swing overlooking the San Antonio River. We decided to continue our date, where he finally told me with a side smile, "You know, we've met before."
"Really?! Was I drunk? I would have remembered that."
"No, we matched on Bumble but you ignored me."
In complete shock, I took the first opportunity to check my Bumble app when he went to the bathroom. I immediately remembered he was the handsome guy I figured I'd have nothing in common with, but the old man-esque angles of his selfies (and not the ones of a dude who was arrogant or a hunter or racist) and the photo with his family convinced me to swipe right. Our conversation on Bumble was weird, to say the least, and I instantly remembered why I never responded. Throughout the course of our relationship I learned he's not active on social media, he didn't know what Vine was and never understood why I was laughing at different memes on Twitter. Our weird exchange on Bumble was reflective of his lack of interest in anything related to socializing via the internet, so I am always grateful we were able to fatefully connect in person.
We went to a Spurs playoff game the night we agreed to enter into a committed relationship together. We pinky-promised to respect each other, be honest, care for each other, communicate, have fun every chance we got, enjoy every day, laugh a lot, and tell each other if ever we wanted out instead of cheating or being unfaithful. A year and a half later, we're still here enjoying each other and having a good laugh at least once every day, and a good meal nearly every day. In the beginning I was so used to conditional love, emotional manipulation, and drama that this peace felt boring. Being treated with unconditional respect and having my boundaries respected was so foreign it made me uncomfortable, and I constantly waited for the other shoe to drop. It hasn't, and I don't believe it ever will.
Today as I walked to my car - full and very happy - I said a prayer for The Original Donut Shop. I prayed they would always be able to retain their authenticity of cooking Puro San Anto Tex-Mex food the way it was intended: with lots of (cheddar, not American, gracias!) cheese, grease, and love. I prayed they'd always be on Fredericksburg Road in their small building where the traffic builds up for them only. I prayed they never change for anyone or anything. They are an institution I've been frequenting for several years.
Today marks the 3rd time I've been able to dine-in: the Original is only open from 7 am - 2 pm every day and are ca$h only. I usually wait in their right-hand drive-thru lane on the weekend for both breakfast tacos and donuts/other breakfast pastries. You won't find any better in one location in the city, I promise. The only other times I was able to dine-in, I had their menudo and carne guisada with cheese to relieve a hangover. #protip
To my delighted surprise, the Original also has a few lunch plate specials with unlimited soda refills for only $5.50! I noticed one man had a large bowl of the fideo loco, which can be ordered from their regular menu. I got the Mexican Plate: a cheese enchilada, a bean and cheese chalupa, rice and beans, and 2 flour tortillas. To complete my tray, the señora placed a cup of their salsa in between the plates.
If heaven exists, there will be an Original Donut Shop waiting for me, full of viejitas speaking Spanish, while the smell of beans and tortillas permeates the air.
Some of the most frequent questions I'm asked by my social media community is, "How do I get active in social justice?" and "How do I get politically involved here in San Antonio?"
My advice is usually pretty brief:
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