My first floating experience at the Everett House Healing Center in Northeast Portland began with a tour. First the locker room; onward to the co-ed showers, steam, and sauna rooms; outside to the hot tub filled with naked bathers; inside to the adjacent building where my float tank awaited.
I was not anxious. I was not scared. After inserting earplugs and dabbing a few cuts on my fingers with petroleum jelly (to protect from stinging salt water), I turned out the light, entered the tank, and closed the door to start my 90-minute event. I floated immediately in 10 inches of water kept at skin temperature. It’s literally pitch black inside so it doesn’t matter if your eyes are opened or closed. You can’t see a damn thing! (Claustrophobics take note: the 7ft. x 4ft. tank actually feels bigger on the inside.)
It was tough to get comfortable at first, as I tried to figure out where to place my hands: folded on my stomach, along my sides, or under my head, as if lying on a hammock. I put them on my stomach and after a few minutes, my face began to tighten – really tighten – as though my skin was being pulled taut. Into the shape of a Hershey’s kiss. And I like Hershey’s kisses!
Soon thereafter, the sensation shifted. Now it felt like a helmet was on my head. And not just any helmet mind you, but a helmet worn by ancient Romans. Sure enough, I found myself on a chariot with (I kid you not) Charlton Heston as he battled Stephen Boyd in the great chariot race from Ben-Hur. That image lasted a few minutes until my left leg twitched and my chariot ride went…poof!
I got comfortable fairly quickly, but here’s the weird part: I really thought a blanket was on top of me. I swear, I didn’t feel the water at all. Until my head rolled to the right. And salt water got into my eye.
After the stinging pain subsided, I soon found a comfy position and drifted from side to side, sometimes brushing against the walls, thinking of nothing in particular. No deep thoughts. No epiphanies. No grand plans for my life. Or yours.
Honestly, I panicked only once. When I couldn’t find my penis. But it was there where I left it. Albeit smaller. No doubt from the Floatation Tank Salt Water Shrinkage Effect (FTSWSE).
Even though there’s no concept of time inside the tank, I had a feeling my 90 minutes was up. As I sat upright, I heard a knock on the tank, signaling my float time had ended. I showered off the salt water and took a quick sauna with one other person. He seemed nice enough. For someone who looked like he just escaped from the circus. As the Devil Boy.
I showered off the sauna sweat and then took a quick dip in the hot tub. Opposite a young naked woman. She smiled. I smiled. Then she got the hell out of there.
Finally, it was time to go. I had a ton of energy and the pain in my leg when I usually sit in the car was gone on the drive home. Now, after my first floating experience, I’m left with an insatiable urge to:
- Bless people. Hundreds of them. Even if they haven’t yet sneezed.
- Invest heavily in my 401(k). Using only coins. Chocolate coins. Wrapped in gold foil.
- Take up surfing. The web. All 1.47 billion pages. In a weekend.
- Help the homeless. Mainly with their signage. So their cardboard messages can always be read clearly.
- Play professional football. As a starting nose tackle. Literally tackling opposing linemen by their noses.
- Drive fast. Unbelievably fast. Through endless rows of corn.
Don’t ask me why.