A couple of weeks ago I scheduled a massage. Not sure how to sort through the myriad of massage therapists listed in this town, I went for the chain massage place. Normally, I’m all about supporting a local, independent business, but I wanted this to be an easy choice and I had a deal for a “first time” massage. I made the appointment and then looked forward to the relaxation all week. Some who know me well might wonder why I needed an appointed time for repose, as I already lead a fairly calm life.
I know people who get massages pretty regularly and I’ve always enjoyed the idea of them. However, it seems like an expensive splurge that I’ve only taken one other time. That time was with the local massage therapy school’s budget clinic, but it wasn’t very relaxing. An instructor kept popping in and out of the room, checking on the student. If the teacher had stayed in the room the entire time, I could have closed my eyes and ignored the third person. It’s amazing, though, what making an appointment for relaxation means. It’s making a commitment and a priority. It’s scheduling an hour. It’s shaving an hour out of my day for rest and relaxation and reflection and research.
Sunday after my swimming lesson and a shower, I dressed in loose-fitting sweats, a t-shirt, and running shoes and drove down to the spa, about 15 minutes from my house. I was encouraged to show up a few minutes early so they could explain the details for this newbie. I filled out some paperwork asking about basic points in my health and medical history and a sheet asking me what type of massage I wanted. Ummmm, a relaxing one. It turns out, there are almost as many options for massage as there are massage therapists. They have therapeutic massage for folks going through certain medical treatments, prenatal massage for expecting mamas, elderly massage for those more experienced in life than I, sports massage for weekend warriors needing healing from their amateur athletic pursuits. I’m not that old, nor expecting, and my sports moments of late haven’t been much of anything, despite a very vivid dream of running my first marathon on Thursday night (I even woke up tired and sore). I just wanted some time to work out the kinks, some time to think, and some time to ponder if this is something I could do for others.
I plopped down in the waiting room. The receptionist sat down next to me, looked through my paperwork, and then proceeded to ask me every question that I had just answered on the forms. Not a relaxing, nor promising start. I get that they wanted to make sure I had filled out the forms properly, but one does not need to treat me as if I’m a four-year-old escaping from her pre-school field trip. Once we were finished, though, I let my hackles down and relaxed a bit. Then the receptionist gushed that I would “love, love” my therapist. I just smiled and waited. Finally the door opened and a fresh breath of air walked in. Suzanne, my assigned massage therapist, introduced herself and I knew the massage matchmakers were magical!
We scooted down the hall to my massage room. Lights were dim and piped relaxing music played through the speakers, otherwise it seemed like walking into a doctor’s office. Oh, except for the big massage table instead of the doctor’s examining table. Oh, and nice highly thread-counted sheets and a blanket waiting for me, instead of the white crinkly medical paper that always bunches under my legs. Suzanne spoke quietly in a yoga master voice and explained that she’d leave the room so I could undress and get myself parked on the table under those luxurious sheets. I’ve seen too many reruns of Friends not to think of Phoebe in her fake Scottish accent, asking Rachel to “Put your face in the hole, lassie!” I did exactly as Suzanne, sans Scottish accent, (and Phoebe in my mind) instructed me to. Once Suzanne returned, I did lose all sense of time and place. I closed my eyes and after the first minute, very quickly lost any embarrassment or sense of trepidation. In fact, I was so relaxed that when Suzanne asked me how the pressure was, or when she asked me to turn over, she had to prod me so I could hear her and follow her instructions.
Fifty minutes later I felt as if I was waking up from a very good dream. Rest and relaxation, check. I realized that sometimes it’s okay to take time for yourself. Sometimes it’s okay to splurge. Sometimes it’s okay to dream. I tried to imagine if I could provide this same service for someone else. Yes, I think I could. Sometimes I dream I could make it a part-time reality to accompany my teaching and writing and living dreams, another possibility in building a life. Sometimes I think it would be wonderful to have the magical power of healing within my grasp, or at least the touch of solace. Sometimes I think it would be fun to pursue this and offer on a budget so others could also indulge without having to reach too deeply into already thin pockets. Now whether or not I pursue it is another dream to ponder. Either way, I have a memory of a moment where all worries and thoughts flew out of my head. Instead, all I felt was the air and I found myself deep in a prayer of thanks.