The clouds hung low and ominous, it was cold and windy, and as I scuttled down the street towards my destination, the first large drops of rain landed on my head. I ran quickly up the stairs, took a deep breath, then entered. It was calmer here, oils scented the air, soft music played. The world outside faded almost instantly.
I was ushered into a small room, dimly lit, but made cosy with the warm glow of a heater in the corner. I took off my clothes and with them, folded all my worries, thoughts and tensions away. This is not a place to be thinking about what has just happened, or what needs to be done. It is a place to be in the moment. I was conscious of the rain pelting down and the wind whipping up the streets outside, but was happy to be safely cocooned in my cosy haven.
She gently closed the door, and I could hear her pouring oil into her hands, and rubbing them together to warm it before she started to spread it on my back. I’m long, with broad shoulders. She needed more oil, but soon her hands got down to work, starting gently but firmly, and gradually increasing the pressure, employing her fists and elbows to work the muscles around my tense spine and stiff neck, injured several months ago but still not quite healed. The knots were tight, and probably needed a few more hours hard work, but even in that short time my neck relaxed and lengthened under her attentive hands.
An hour on a massage table goes too quickly. What can be more decadent than lying on a bed in a dimly lit room with soft music playing, swathed in towels and having sweet oils massaged into your skin? Feeling the knots being worked out of your body, focusing on releasing all the tension that you don’t know is there until it’s gone. Concentrating on what you’re feeling at that moment, making the most of every stroke, every pressure. I don’t understand people who can fall asleep during a massage. Do they not pay attention?
I’m particularly fond of hand and feet massages. Appendages so taken for granted and over-used that I never expected the pleasure you can feel when they’re pressured and moulded and stroked.
The worst part of a massage is when it is over. Even when it hurts it is worth it.
I’ve had massages in many places. A foot and calf massage from a blind man in Singapore that hurt so much I wanted to cry. A back massage by a woman in Wellington who said if it didn’t hurt it wasn’t doing any good (she was right, so I groaned out loud for the whole hour). In Bangkok, hand massages whilst getting my hair cut were a routine service. Head massages at my hair salon here that make me want to cry when they stop. A woman walking on my back in Bali in my first ever massage. A tiny Thai woman manipulating my back, click, groan, click, groan, click, aaaaaahhhh, perfect. The Fijian girl who had just set up her salon at the Cook Islands resort and had a rough piece of skin on her hand which scratched, but the sound of the waves on the beach made up for it. The massage therapist who has such slow long relaxing strokes every millisecond is pure bliss.
I wish I could afford a massage once a week. Two hours minimum. It would be time and money well spent.