Yesterday I got a massage. I’ve had hundreds over the years so it was nothing new, per se, and to be sure, I am definitely a massage connoisseur. I know what I like and I know what I don’t; I am also completely unapologetic for reaching that self-aware benchmark as well as the ability to decide I’m going to spend money on them – frequently. All this is rationalized, of course, under the 3-fold heading of I work hard, waited forever to get one, and paying a total stranger to rub you down is illegal in a lot of countries, so God bless America.
Now, there are not only myriad reasons my back is as messed up as the 2016 Presidential line-up, but also a ton of local places from which to choose to receive a decent massage. The question yesterday was one of timing. I had a two-hour window that would work and a two-hour window only.
I arrive 10 minutes early as I was explicitly told on the phone by the exceptionally talkative new owner that, “Amanda has only been here two weeks and we’re trying to build her clientele, so you can have 90 minutes for the price of 60 – or even more time if you get here earlier!”
Yay me. America is gonna be blessed times two.
Way to go, new guy. Improving upon prior horrible customer service renders two thumbs up and a hard-to-summon-lately smile from one knotty, massage-ready traffic violator.
Except when I roll in, slam the car into P and throw open the door, he doesn’t shut up in his quest to fall all over himself while explaining Amanda is running behind schedule.
“You know, I thought she had an hour and a half slot and she is new and then so and so called right after you did and you know right when you tell someone that they can have extra time…”
(I’m already tuning him out as I feel my neck tense up like maggots about to be dumped into a frying pan – a good ploy on his verbose, entrepreneurial part)
“That’s ok,” I tell him in my best whispering tone as I look down at the book I’ve been reading the last couple days. Who Do You Love: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner. If I don’t officially end up a writer, maybe I can at least get a gig titling well-written work so people like me don’t have to feel like an ass walking around with what feels like a neon flashing billboard-sized arrow under our arms.
Out comes Amanda calling my name.
Amanda is a petite blond – at least I think she is blond but I couldn’t really tell because her hair was greasy and pulled back into what looked like days of unhappy.
Already at the mercy of her behind schedule, losing relaxation and un-knotting by the second, I summarily provide my likes and dislikes in record time. Is this what some genius thought speed dating works like? It feels more like Bingo to me. Weird either way.
As I’m lying there, face-down in the toilet bowl inducing ring around your face contraption, I hear Amanda incessantly chattering in the hallway over the gentle rolls of faux waves crashing through the ceiling speakers.
I am not relaxed. I am seething.
Focus. Focus on just “being.” What the heck do those re-re’s call it? Namaste or something. Whatever. I’m not there or on a rubber mat or in a steam room. I’m definitely not zen. I am paying for this and it sucks already and it hasn’t even started yet. Shut up, brain. Just…SHUT UP.
Amanda knocks (as if I’m not ready by now), she starts, and it’s fine. She’s off to a very slow start, but it’s fine.
…until it’s not.
“Can you maybe not ram your elbow into my 12thvertebrae like you’re Ronda Rousey?”
“Oh! Sorry, does that hurt?”
I do not like Amanda. I do not like the massage. I do not like anything. The only saving grace in that moment was that I was going to use the money she was not getting for a tip to buy a bottle of wine on my way home after these 90 minutes I can never get back are over.
Begrudgingly, I began to cry. And not because an elbow to the back coming out my sternum hurt, but because everything did. Everything does.
I called Liv’s Dad yesterday on the race-drive to obtain an immediate, magical fix to the pain. I dialed him demanding to know if he had heard from her. Our daughter. The one in her first week of college who apparently has forgotten I gave birth to her and fed her every once in a while.
“Yeah, I just talked to her again last night, why?”
Again? A-freaking-GAIN? What the hell does he mean again? He must be confusing me or Liv with other people, in a different situation, in a different life, in a different stratosphere.
“Because she’s only called me once and I…”
I refocused and asked Amanda a question. She went on to tell me that she had moved to Fort Wayne from Las Vegas only two weeks ago – to get here in time for her twin 13-year old daughters to start 8th grade. As an aside, she added that they just make the school Cross Country team and were about to start their first meet, but since she was running behind, she wouldn’t be able to make it.
“It’s a long story,” she lamented. “This change definitely hasn’t been easy so far. I did it for them, but it’s been harder on me than I ever imagined and I feel guilty for feeling this way.”
I pretended the tears falling faster through the contraption thing were all swishing through the bottom of a net from outside the arc as I listened more intently.
“They wanted to be in the Midwest, a little closer to their Dad, before a whole new phase of their lives started. I don’t know anyone here and my life feels a bit out of control, like I have no idea what to do or what my schedule is anymore and I am lonely. But, to see them so happy makes me happy.”
“I know this will sound crazy, but I can’t take any more of this,” I announced as I raised my ring-around-the-head and turned to see her face.
“Oh I’m so sorry to tell you all of that!”
“No, no – I meant that you totally worked out whatever was in there, and my back feels amazing. Since we started a little late, I really need to get home and…”
She looked at me with tears in her own eyes, texted her girls that she was on her way, and walked out.