The 90-minute massage was a birthday present from my oldest sister. My birthday was in January; this is the kind of fabulous gift that’s easy not to use. I tried to schedule the massage nearly a month ago, then got hit with some weird fungus on my back — not great massage material — followed quickly by a flu that took me out for a solid week.
Then I was hoping we’d be able to do it on a Friday afternoon or even a weekend day, so that afterwards I could enjoy that bonus extra awesomeness of not having to gear back up.
After exchanging several missives with Annie, the massage therapist, we settled on Monday afternoon. Not ideal, but get over yourself, I told myself. It’s a massage, it was a gift, and you set your own hours. (Sometimes I need a good talking to.)
That Monday was today. Still is, in fact. The massage was scheduled for 2:30. I arrived five minutes early and sat in a nondescript hallway listening to the watery sounds of the noise machine next to the “Massage in Progress” sign on the floor by Annie’s door. After about 15 minutes, I heard laughter and voices.
Annie came out to wash her hands while her client changed, then a second time when she was ready for me to come inside. We chatted for a few minutes before she left me to get undressed. I told her I’m working a lot and also writing a lot and also loving all of it, even the hard parts. She has warm, brown eyes that smile, and she listened attentively. Shen she left the room, I turned over an angel card before stripping down.
Sisterhood Brotherhood. My people. Connection. Community.
The smell of essential oils of some kind or another, so illicit in our household, greeted my nostrils the moment I walked into the studio. Annie has worked on me a couple of times before and we’ve opted to not use any oils, to reduce any risk of Mani reacting to me (particularly nut-based oils can cling to the skin long after washing; and mast cell disease can be so intense that even after I dry massage, I showered and threw all of my scent-soaked clothes in the wash).
Well, it turns out dry massage is better for releasing fascia, and oh lordy, could my fascia use some releasing. I’m guessing she spent at least an hour just working on the line from my foot, with its tender adrenal point, all the way up through glutes. (As an aside, I am such a word dork; I just Googled “glutes” and then “gluteus,” first to make sure I was spelling it correctly, and then for the etymology; it’s Latin for “rump”).
My mind was doing its predictable walkabouts, even as I followed instructions and took big yawning breaths, exhaling as she applied the kind of deep pressure as I prefer. It’s not a “no pain, no gain” kind of thing, but I do love that sensation of being a little worked, a little sore, and a lot loosened up.
I had what I was sure were some great ideas, and even came up with a little mantra so I would remember them (they weren’t really that great, after I was back in clothes and in my car, driving home — kind of like the ideas you have right on the edge of falling asleep that lose their shimmer in the light of day). I remembered some things and even had fleeting moments of alarm; all of these were, of course, related to work and money and planning and being on top of my shit.
And then I slid down the table and turned over onto my back. Annie unhooked the head rest and placed a stone on my sternum. Its weight felt good, like an assurance. You are solid. You are safe.
I felt the heat of her hands over my face, then over my throat. She shifted them now and then in ever-so-subtle movements. And finally, I drifted. I drifted into that dark expanse, where you see shapes and even visions behind eyelids, where you enter another dimension beyond thought, where there truly is rest, and — in Annie’s words — health.
When she finished, I thanked her and told her that had been some kind of magic. Then I asked her if there had been anything else, beyond the physical body, that she’d noticed. “Your throat and head,” she said, “that really felt like where there is so much health.” I voiced my surprise. “Really?”
I told her that was interesting and kind of amazing, since historically, those have been my barriers. Always with the tight throat, the voice swallowed, and the head overtaking the body. Not anymore. “That’s where your wisdom and perspective are, which you’re using now in your work.” Another wow moment.
She left the room then, and I took a minute to stretch and get up before getting dressed. I jotted down the ideas that had seemed so important before. And then I chose a second angel card before opening the door.
Clarity. Of purpose, of voice, and of mind.
p.s. Thanks, Ris.