I was in the midst of my deep tissue massage (as deep as I would allow Rachel to get in…Meaning not deep enough.) Note to self: work on forcing yourself to relax. You all may think that’s funny, but I tried that one before and hot damn, it worked.
I took a vacation at a hiking spa in southern Utah eight million years ago. The only reason I was placed with the toughest guys (mainly women) was because I was the little girl who just followed directions. We had to run this course through the rocky, hilly sparse terrain. We were never told to run but run was the only way for me to keep up. At the end of the course, those who bothered to finish (yeah, I finished because they said to, don’t you get it?) were told to ascend the “six-minute hill.”
I have no fucking clue how steep that damned thing was, but I’d never seen a hill so steep that I was expected to climb. Just one steep mother of a grassy hill, that’s all. They (those spa people) told me to, so I did. I couldn’t believe there were actual young people saying, “Oh no, this has been enough for me!” I climbed the godddamned thing. Chip would say to those laggards, as he says to me when I ask him for something, “What! Are your legs broken?”
We hikers were never told this was our placement test. When I was told I made the top team, I burst into tears. I went to the man who looked most like a camp director and told him there had to be some kind of mistake. (We’re already in November. Little Franny is closing in on high tide with her Seasonal Affective Disorder. (I’m one fucking mess aren’t I? But a highly functional fucking mess.) I burst into tears again and told him there was no way I’d be able to keep that shit up. “Oh, we just speed things up to see who does it and who doesn’t.” And the hill…if you say, no hill, no serious hiking for you. He said you were great out there. (Like he knew.) Well I did it. He told me to.
Among parts of the spa package were three massages. I had never had a massage before, and I was more than dubious. This Slavic sports massage therapist kept insisting that I relax. I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. I seemed perfectly relaxed to me. Sometime in the next day or so, I got it. I had my goddamned epiphany. A real “aha” moment. I knew what I had to do.
I went back to the Slavic master who was shocked to see me after what he must of thought was a debacle of a massage. “I know how to do it now.” He looked dubious- wouldn’t you? But okay, take off your clothes, get under the sheet, and we’ll begin. I told myself, “You fucking little turd, you will relax. “And I gritted my teeth and voila Mr. Slavic Master, dig in. there’s plenty for everyone. I opened up, gritted teeth and all. “How did you do that?” “I forced myself to do it.” I think he thought me crazy, but we both had a helluva lot more fun than the first time. And I fell in love with the glorious pain of a deep tissue massage.
Today was massage day. Ninety minutes. Some real fine pain. Man, I’ve started to open up, but I have a ways to go. But I can still make myself do it. I force-feed myself relaxation. That’s sick.
And Dave (many years after sharing his heart disease scare and his quintuple bypass very openly and movingly with his audience) asked Michael about what was happening with him. You know Dave knew…I didn’t. Michael Douglas told us he has been diagnosed with stage four throat cancer. Stage four in any cancer isn’t very good. It usually stinks. He said his one saving grace, the cancer has not spread below his neck. Yeah, I’ll say. Poor guy. He was diagnosed three weeks ago. Had his first chemo treatment. I‘m telling you, just one knocks you for a loop. No wonder he looked like shit. The two men then hugged. And then I imagine we went to commercial.
As I was lying facedown with all my breathing apparatus impressing runes in my face, it finally dawned on me. Was that warm hug goodbye?