And we’ll all float on anyway

float on feature
Sep 11

Portland’s slogan is “Keep Portland Weird” and although stolen from Austin, I can forgive them for that since they really live up to it. The whole vibe there is very different. Downtown you can see business professionals and homeless teens co-mingling on the streets. I haven’t seen that much colored hair since my days at punk rock shows. Everyone marches to the beat of their own drum there.

While there Kevbot and I partook in the strangest thing I’ve ever done. A few years ago he had read an AMA about Float On, a float tank center in Portland. It’s also on his 99 Things so we had to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Basically it’s like a giant, perfect bath tub that hold about 10″ of water with 850 lbs. of Epsom Salt mixed in. This makes you float in a near zero-gravity environment while you lie in the water. The water is your skin-temperature, so you can’t feel where it’s touching you, and the tanks are completely soundproof and lightproof, meaning you’re floating in complete nothingness.”

And I gotta say it was trippy! I was pretty nervous in the first place. I wasn’t sure if I would be claustrophobic. Or I would get insanely bored. But mainly I imagined something similar to The Pipe in Tank Girl.

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First your floating guide walks you back and tells you all about the tanks and procedures. The rooms are very calming and felt very spa-like. Once in the room, you strip down, take a quick rinse in the shower, and climb into the tank. The tank I had was actually so large that I could stand in it, and also had a blue light that I could switch off inside. The salt makes the bottom very slippery so I had to be very careful when I was taking photos when I should have been meditating.

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After I finally decided I had enough photos, it was time to take the plunge. I laid back carefully into the salty water and my legs bounced up to the surface. It felt like a bed of thick gel. Nervously I closed the door, switched off the light, and tried to relax as my body rocked like a boat on the tiny waves.

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It was pitch dark. My eyes widened and strained for any hint of light. I tried to keep perfectly still. I had no spatial awareness of where my body was in the tank. I could feel motion, but couldn’t place if I was moving to the left or right. Was I creeping near the top, or would my feet graze the wall? It was a very unsettling feeling.

My mind raced the entire time. It jumped from one subject to another, unable to hold on. I was like a child catching bubbles. I would reach out to grab a thought, just then it would burst, and I would be distracted by another iridescent bubble, all the while fixated on the lost bubble.

A cat would run across my path, and then a dog would bark… where did that cat go? I had a few of these strange animal thoughts, but I’m chalking it up to the corgi meetup we had attended that morning.

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I was in the tank for a total of 90 minutes and the last 15 or 20 was about the time I started to relax. My breathing had calmed down. I had stopped imagining the Loch Ness monster pulling my under. My mind wasn’t racing as much.

And all the sudden my phone alarm accidentally went off! I jolted up and it felt like I was pulling my head out of mud. My hair was so thick with salty goo and so heavy it disoriented me. I was worried about disturbing other floaters so I jumped out of the tank as quickly as possible. The goo formed salty droplets on my bag as I fumbled for my phone. Fortunately I only had about 2 minutes left in the tank, but I would have liked a more soothing call back to reality.

After I showered and was salt free, Kevbot and I drank some calming tea in a relaxing daze. It was definitely an experience and one that I would try again. Now that I know what to expect, maybe I would relax faster and just float on.

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Bad news comes, don’t you worry even when it lands
Good news will work it’s way to all them plans
-Modest Mouse

About the Author

K10

K10 is a photographer, crossfitter and on a mission to find her muchness.

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