My parents live next to a radioactive hot spring, obviously. Whenever I quietly declare that I’m going on a walk and slip out the door, I’m usually going there. It’s because I know exactly where it is. It’s also because I stand as close as I can to it, craned over the railing, trying to absorb its powers. If the radons are negligible, then I need to make many trips for anything to happen.
I could just take baths all the time since the water is pumped directly into their apartment, but that’s ridiculous.
The “Thermal Valley” is a steamy pond of magic sulphur enclosed by a forest of elephant-ear plants. Whenever I go there, craning, I eventually crane back and stare into all that green. “What stops somebody from just living in there?” is what I think every time. This is the same thing I thought, every time, when I drove through the Red Rock loop in Vegas. What stops somebody?
Well, the answer I always make these places give me is, “You don’t know if they are stopped.” In a booming voice, but also gentle. Like Mufasa when he says, “Remember who you are.”
And maybe most of my internal dialogue is just imagined conversations with nature where I am challenged to go off the grid. What does this mean, exactly?
The last time I visited the hot spring, I imagined sliding through the elephant ears and disappearing for good. I thought about whether I’d go home first and change into something more comfortable, grab some provisions. I thought about my mother staring at me, head to foot, and saying, “Are you really going like that?