Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

June 11th, 2009
S.L.O.: Check yourself into the Sanitarium – pronto!

Is your mind desperate for a mental break? Does your body whimper at the mere mention of a Moroccan soaking tub? Is it possible you have been driven crazy and don’t even know it?

Sometimes solutions are stumbled upon. Or fallen into. Or collapsed upon. Here is my tale.

I arrived at the Sanitarium, sliding in the back kitchen door quietly – less I disturb any occupants. I had no idea what I was in for. In fact I had assumed I would check-in, be briefed and head right back out for a sultry evening on the salty streets of San Luis Obispo.

Instead I was stunned. Standing. Blinking. Wavering. What to touch first. The cold basin of the deep hammered tub standing unfettered in the corner? The bumpy, crazy colored, lovingly worn patchwork quilt and fluffy pillows? The breezy sun drenched private deck beyond the open french doors. The cool tiles of the bathroom floor. I lingered over every item – all seeming selected just to seduce me.

I succumbed. Silently disrobing. I lay prone, gazing up and out to the swaying tree tops. I slumbered.

After months of constantly moving, making, minding, and musings, my mind and body came to a complete stop. A stillness not acquired in ages. When I awoke it was dark and cool. Faint music and laughter floated up the stairs and slipped under my door. I lay quietly for awhile hoping I might fall off to sleep again. But curiosity moved me up and on. I freshened up – determined to still do something in San Luis Obispo other than sleep.

Tiptoeing downstairs I found the innkeeper in the front studio puttering and muttering. He was surrounded by multiple painted canvases of all sizes and styles, several 20 gallon tin buckets filled with hundreds of squeezed tubes of paint, and dozens of jelly jars with brushes standing at attention.

“Here, you can paint too” he offered. Really? Yes, maybe, but first I will go out. I spent the rest of the evening in a downtown used bookstore, huddled in the arts section. I discovered a Sothebys auction catalog devoted to Latin American art. It too seemed to be waiting for me just like my room was.

I returned to the Sanitarium eager to completely submit to its care. An hour long private steam shower loosened the last twist in my mental and physical spine, delivering a state of utter submission to weave dreams so vivid and clear – all lost to me now.

In the morning – all plans for seeing the sights were silenced. Instead I dined in the darling pantry and flirted with the innkeeper amid his artwork, moved by his insight and sensitivity, I too was inspired. I settled on the parlor sofa and fingered thru several neatly stacked four foot piles of art books clearly lovingly collected over many years.

I would paint. I could paint. Please may I paint. I am so pleased at the notion of painting.

Two hours of page turning flies by. Stumped. What to paint. Time is passing. Bye bye time. Okay. Focus. Blank canvas. What am I feeling? Cleansed. Naked. Beautiful.

Starting with a simple lead pencil I generate and outline form. Assured, my fingers reach for a brush and tube of paint and I begin. Colors layering, light and shadows building, a self portrait emerges. Light dapples the studio, kids on bikes holler down the street and birds are cheerfully chirping. Uninterrupted for several hours I sing through my fingers, my heart smiles and my eyes are dancing. I remember me.

Nearly finished – it was time for check-out. I felt transformed. Loosened. Lighter.

So simply made happy in 24 hours. What a gift to my solo self. Thank you. Thank me.

Stay here as soon as you can

Sanitarium Spa
1716 Los Osos Road
San Luis Obispo, CA

7 intimate rooms with private baths. Garden. Art studio. Piano. Walking distance to downtown.
Massage room. Read the site for full details.

Beautiful website
But call – the owner Suzy hates email and computers.
805-544-4124

I will go back.

One thought on “S.L.O.: Check yourself into the Sanitarium – pronto!

  1. Wow, Patti, that place sounds amazing… let me know when you’re going back & if you’d like a friend (me!) to join you. ;)

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