Natura (in memoriam)

Natura closed in June 2018. I never got to say goodbye. It was a 15 year relationship. Natura was located in a mall with a movie theater and retail shops. The building got sold, and the mall had been shutting down. When I walked in, there was a sign on the front desk. The sign was very graceful, the family that owned the business decided not to continue. I did not share a language with the front desk ladies and I remember trying and realizing I wasn’t going to have depth of conversation and gratitude. I said, “I just want you to know how important you are to me.”

I’m a dedicated, endurance person—a pace setter on hikes. My other friends migrated to other spas, but if I find something I really love, I want to commit to it so that it thrives. I originally heard about Natura through a friend and she took me. It was a way for me to cope with Los Angeles and the massiveness. Los Angeles can be a lot for my nervous system because I’m lived in smaller spaces. Korean spas are a sensory deprivation chamber, but a very sensual one. They activate the body and its senses but deactivate overstimulation.

Natura was like an underground womb in Koreatown. It was off the Wilshire/Vermont Metro stop. I could take the train, get off and walk to it, which was very important when I got out of the spa. There were no windows to the exterior world—all within. It could be easily a 3-8 hour commitment. There was a wet pool area with different hot tubs—tea bath, old tubs, a very hot one. hot tubs. There was a jade room, a yellow clay room, a cedar sauna room, and a steam room. The jade room was backlit—it looked like pink Himalayan salt. There were these beautiful long channels of cooling pools with bowls of cold water to pour on yourself.

There’s a separate room for services. scrubs, and massages. I would shampoo my hair with mint shampoo that would tingle. They slice a cold cucumber to make a cucumber mask, and the biting cold felt so good with other facial treatments. It was about $100 for a massage, scub, and tub time. Entrance to the spa itself was $20. The ladies in the spa were Korean, wearing matching black lingerie. They made me a body. They had a delicious kitchen with the best galbi and fresh juice, fresh grapefruit juice. There were two different nap rooms, lounge areas. I didn’t use the nails/facials/exercise/acupressure room, but they existed.

There was such an array that could be found and it helped me feel comfort, especially in LA and its intense central city. It made the city retreat from me. I would take friends and visitors. I took my mom from small town Wisconsin, she was so nervous. By the time we left, every time she came back it was about when do we go to Natura.

Many days if I woke up and needed the spa I could go—and that was a different way of understanding care. I could read the rhythms of my body. Before I had only known scheduling appointments, so I would have to predict my future body in a way that I didn’t have to with the Korean Spa. If I go to a massage, it’s 1 hr, 1.5 hrs, but it’s not the same environmental aspect. I could flex the amount of time. There were heated floors in the nap room.

I have been to Olympic Spa and Century Spa, they are also two strong ones. But when I have a muscle memory to the space itself, it takes time to build it up. I’m trying to love the early stages. It reminds me that relationships are about putting in the time. I can’t get around that. It’s about spatial environments, cities can be that too. The breakdown of the rooms at Natura really suited my body really well. It’s like when you put on clothes and it’s too tight. There was a lushness of material, as a sculpture it was so satisfying. There was just enough texture and color. It felt homey. It reminds me that everything is so fragile here in Los Angeles.

—Spa Thought Partner Sara, transcribed during video interview with Carol

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