It’s been ten years since I started taking massage classes. I didn’t even know why I was doing it at first. I only knew that I really loved the people at the school and that there was something magical about what happened on the massage table.
I’m notoriously bad at relaxing, even for being into yoga, meditation, massage, breathwork. I still have trouble turning my mind off enough to truly relax sometimes. But when I’m on the table and someone is touching me in that loving and healing way, I fly. I disconnect and relax in a way that is altogether unique.
Bringing people to this place of relaxation, allowing their bodies and minds to heal in a pleasurable way, is why I am still doing massage ten years later. I am lucky to currently have a job that I love, that pays me well and gives me a lot of autonomy and trust. I have a key and often open up by myself, getting the rug and chairs put out, starting up the diffusers and the music, prepping hot towels. It has become a relaxing ritual for me.
This job has allowed me to grow, and also to decompress. I recently moved out of my ex-husband’s apartment, and I now live with a good friend of mine. My job has given me something consistent to look forward to, and has allowed me to afford to try living independently again.
Often, I think about going back to school. I have a horrible Sallie Mae loan that ruined my credit when I defaulted on it, and now I owe them like $40k. They actually asked me if I could cash in my food stamps when I was pregnant, those fucking assholes. I think about how nice it would be to go back to a job where I had benefits and could pay for my own apartment and start working on my debt and terrible credit. But I honestly don’t know what I’d do. English was my original major, creative writing, but I don’t really want to teach. I just want to write.
There’s a physical therapy assistant program that could be cool, or I could add esthetician to my skill-set. But nothing really grabs me. I like working less than 40 hours a week. I enjoy seeing my clients and hearing about their lives. I do worry what will happen as I grow older, and what I would do if I injured myself. No job is perfect.
I love so many things about what I do. I love the feeling of oil or cream sliding on skin. I like how the sheets float down onto the table when I change it, and how neat the table looks once I’ve made it up. I like that, for the most part, people don’t want or expect me to talk to them. Touching bodies transports me to a reverent place, a place where everything is sacred. I work in service to my clients, and try to put their needs before my own.
My hands work, my body works, but my mind is free. I can think about writing, but mostly, I think about nothing. I lose myself in the rhythm of the work and before I know it, the day is done. I have my biggest writing breakthroughs after a long day of doing massage. My mind just works out problems on its own while I am distracted and in my body, lost in its movements.
Maybe someday I will grow too tired, too old, to continue this work. I hope not. I have heard horror stories, mostly from Los Angeles, about therapists showing up at people’s houses only to be rejected for being too old/unattractive. Seriously? One of my coworkers has been doing massage for over 25 years. She’s in her 50s and still going strong, so maybe I needn’t worry. But I do.
In the meantime though, I am grateful. When my clients are appreciative, it makes my day. When they aren’t, I try to let it go, but it usually lingers. Thankfully, that rarely happens. I am happy to work in a service-oriented position, as the joy that comes with the work comes from the joy I bring my clients every day. It’s hard to have a bad day when everyone is happy to see you.
Recently, my massage mentor passed away. It has been hard on our entire healer community to have him gone. He brought so much light to my life. It is difficult to accept as our heroes die, that we must continue in their place. I can only hope to affect half as many lives as James Stewart did. I will always be grateful for his teachings and the career they have given me. It brings me the greatest pleasure and honor to work in service to others, and I hope to continue to serve in some capacity no matter where I wind up in this world.