spa

A Celebratory Massage (Adventures at the Spa: Part 4)

My sister just passed her comprehensive exams for grad school, making her a certified Speech-Language Pathologist.

*pause for much deserved applause*

To celebrate her accomplishment and combat the years of hard work leading up to it, as well as the weeks and weeks of stress she went through studying for the exam, I booked massage appointments for her, my mom and I.

If you’ve been around this blog for a little while, you might know that I have had an aversion/borderline fear of massages in the past, which is why on our previous trip to the spa I opted for being swaddled in a cocoon—which you can read about here. This time around however, I was determined to go all in.

Seeing as this year has been chockFULL of calendar events, and I had been sipping on secondhand stress for my sister, I was actually in a place where a massage sounded useful. Necessary, even. So as we sat at the spa that afternoon, clad in our luxurious white robes, and already relaxed after having spent a couple hours checking out the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, I was only slightly nervous. And when my name was called and I was led back to the room and asked to disrobe by my very nice masseuse, Rochelle, I only awkwardly giggled once.

Then it began.

After lying on my stomach and tucking myself under the sheet, Rochelle walked back into the room and promptly pulled the sheet all the way over my head. This immediately made me feel like a corpse, which wasn’t exactly relaxing, but then I thought, is there anything more relaxing than being dead? So I went full rigor mortis and let her go to work.

Looking back at my first massage, I compared the work of the masseuse to that of a baker kneading bread. I remembered this as Rochelle started massaging my back, and I had a sudden realization that I was the bread. And when I accepted that, I realized the true key to surviving and thriving your way through a massage.

Be dead. Be bread. Get read.

That is: allow yourself to melt into the table and, for lack of a better word, DIE. Then embrace your temporary identity as a batch of dough needing…kneading. And then let the masseuse read you, i.e. go hunting for everywhere you’ve been hiding and holding stress, anxiety, and those cringy, awkward moments you’ve been trying to forget about.

Be dead. Be bread. Get read.

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Following this mantra, it was no time at all before Rochelle was telling me our 50 minutes were up. As a testament to her work, when I stood up, my legs felt like jello and my hair was sticking out in seemingly every direction. And since I was still naked, I realized I was the perfect embodiment of a troll doll.

But alas, with a smile on my face, my rubber band back in my hair, and my robe securely fastened, I walked back into the waiting room a new woman. I was relaxed, I was moisturized, and I was now a massage person.

My First Massage (Adventures at the Spa: Part 2)

There I was, face down on a table, left butt cheek out, thinking about high school…

Wait, I should back up a bit.

I walked into a dark room in nothing but a cloth robe and found Kendra, who flipped on some classical music.

Woah. Wait, that took it a different direction. Let’s go to the very beginning.

Saturday night my mom, sister and I got a call from our friend Julie that we were having a Surprise Sunday Spa Day.

“Be ready at 8:45!” she said through our speakerphone.

The next morning, as we stood there in our robes, ogling the enormous, 6 nozzle showers, Julie explained that we were each signed up for a 1-hour massage and a pedicure. We all jumped, wiggled, smiled and squealed in excitement; what a wonderful Sunday this would be!

As we packed up our lockers, my mom stopped for a second, “We keep our underwear on, right?”

“Nope,” Julie replied.

“What?”

What?

“WHAT?”

Julie nodded as an answer: This massage would be sans chonies.

Now, this may not be a big deal to some, but I was a first timer, as in, never have I ever lie down on a table and let a stranger treat my muscles like a rubiks cube. So when I walked into the dimly lit room, knowing each step I took was more breezy than normal, it was safe to say I was a little nervous. Plus, thanks to my already anxious nature and unhinged imagination, I had fully convinced myself that I’d be assigned a burly man that just had his heart broken. He’d stand over me, whimpering, replaying everything that went wrong in his ill-fated romance. His strength would be at an all time low and he’d paw at my back like it was a couch cushion needing to be straightened. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, he’d sprint into the second stage of grief and start treating the knots in my shoulders like punching bags. “HOW DARE YOU ANDREA!” he’d say while twisting my spine in a direction it was unfamiliar with. And I’d be there, my head stuck in that open-faced pillow, trying to tell him what a mistake she had made, while also politely asking that he pop my shoulders back into place. All that being said, seeing Kendra was a huge relief.

“I’m going to step outside for a moment so you can disrobe and lie on your stomach under the sheet,” she said.

A few seconds later, when I dropped my robe on the floor, I audibly giggled like a child. I briefly considered yelling, “I’M NAKED!” but then I got nervous that I was moving too slow and that Kendra would open the door and show the entire lounge my butt. So I pulled the sheet over me as quickly as I could and slapped my face into the pillow like I was trying to win a no-hands pie-eating contest. Once, I was settled, Kendra knocked and reentered, and then suddenly it was go time.

She started at the nape of my neck, making counterclockwise circles like my skin was a mouse pad and she was making a masterpiece on Windows Paint. Then, from my shoulders, she began to push up through my neck to my head. She did this over and over in identical fashion, as if she was carving a path for all the stress to release.  Unfortunately however, it didn’t simply dissolve into the eucalyptus air. I felt every ounce of stress, anxiety, and pent up cringes that were pumping through my muscles. She was like Moses, parting the red sea of awkwardness and all the people passing through were old memories. Like that time I split my pants in Kindergarten, or the stupid things I’ve said to the boys I liked, or every period I got from ages 13-16. There they all were; it was a slideshow of stress playing at its own funeral.

At some point during my walk through the awk, I realized that if my left butt cheek had eyes, it could now see the ceiling; she had begun to massage my leg and had adjusted the sheet accordingly.

“You can turn over now,” Kendra said after she finished the other leg.

Once flipped, I began to panic. All of the important parts were covered, that wasn’t a concern, but what the hell was I supposed to do with my arms?

Did I lay them at my side? Was that too morgue-ish?

Did fold my hands over my stomach? Was that too coffin-y?

How does anyone not look like a corpse at this point?

And do I keep my eyes open?

What if we make eye contact?

Will I have to say something?

What if I smile weird and she thinks I’m having a stroke?

Thankfully she was able to work through both arms and legs, completely unfazed by my likeness to a cadaver, and move to the top of the table to dig at the muscles just below my neck

Early on she found a knot on my left side and dug her fingers into it like she was kneading dough. Immediately after discovering this similarity, I stopped paying attention and dreamt about bread……Sourdough

When I snapped back to reality she was working on a knot on my right side, worse than the first, and I suddenly understood what dirt must feel like when you stab a shovel into it. Then, as the knot continued to hold strong, I thought of that old Eggo waffle commercial where the kid digs his way to China. She was digging and digging until: HELLO SHANGHAI and I was certain I would never be able to move my arm again.

A few minutes later, she thanked me for my time and I reciprocated the gesture. She guided me down the hallway and as I approached my family, I tried to get ahold of what had just happened.

Rubix Cube. Mouse Pad. Moses……sourdough<3, Shanghai.

Massages, who knew?