I didn’t think it was possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never had a full conversation with until I met my prenatal masseuse, Sarah. When I’m lying on her table, I’m being cared for rather than caring for something. My body experiences pleasure rather than the aches and shooting pains of the third trimester. Sometimes I don’t even realize how tightly knit my back muscles are until her fingers go to work, carving out the pebbles I’ve secretly stored in my shoulders and along my spine, releasing tension and a flood of endorphins.
I’ve had massages before. Prenatal ones, even. But never like this. She plays my knots like piano keys and my constricted cells open and rejoice. They become part of her symphony. I hear the hallelujah choir of angels singing inside me. In my heart, in my soul. If this is love, and I think it just might be, maybe I’ve never truly loved anyone else before.
If I were to assign her cell number a photo on my iPhone, it’d be a stream of light slicing through cumulus clouds. If she moved, I’d consider relocating to be near her. I might name this woman godmother to our unborn child, but only if he ends up being a good kid. She doesn’t deserve to be godmother to a little asshole. I might add her as a beneficiary to my husband’s life insurance policy. If she’s accused of a crime, I’ll be her alibi to keep her out of jail.
She’s a talented woman. Her massages could end family disputes. Government shutdowns. They could be massages for peace.
If there is a medal for massage, it should go to Sarah. If there isn’t, they should create one for her.
She is booked months in advance. Months. If I had a massage appointment the day of a friend’s funeral, I’d have to really think about how much that friend meant to me.
I found Sarah by searching prenatal massage on Yelp the evening the other masseuse refused to work on me because I was pregnant. (Perhaps I should thank that nasty therapist. Without her ignorance, I never would have met my soul masseuse.) Sarah was, no surprise, rated the best massage therapist in the north shore of Boston, and listed prenatal massage as a skill, so I knew I wouldn’t be rejected again. I happened to discover her business on a day she had a rare cancellation. If that’s not fate, then fate doesn’t exist.
After our initial meeting, I was a little heartbroken to hear she didn’t have another opening for six weeks. How could I survive that long without her—without ever feeling good? My life and body was (and is) changing so quickly; I had no idea what I’d be doing, how I’d be feeling, what I’d look like, six weeks from that first massage. But I was sure of one thing—I’d be curled up on Sarah’s table, in the pillow nest she builds when she knows I’m coming.
Now and until this baby is delivered from the achy prison he and I are both trapped inside, I visit Sarah every six weeks for sweet relief, and in between I live small, stiff lifetimes. I hurt. I hurt bad. Months out, appointments with Sarah are the only items on otherwise blank calendar pages. And they are penned in thick, un-erasable marker.
Once in a while, I slip in a last minute massage because someone else had to cancel, and I always wonder what tragedy must have struck that person that he or she would sacrifice precious time on Sarah’s table. Did they get into a car crash? And not just a rear-ender, because I’d limp my scraped up ass across town for her if it was only a minor collision, but a multiple car pileup on the freeway? Did they go into labor—active labor? Witness a mob hit and are on the lam? For a heartbeat I feel sorry for that person and the indulgence they lost, likely not to be experienced again until the weather has changed. I grieve on their behalf. And then that moment ends and I enthusiastically take their spot. When there is a cancellation, Sarah only has to text one person on her list before the appointment is snapped up. This time she picked me. Who knows when another such opportunity will arise? So screw that sorry S.O.B. and their traumatic ordeal. Their loss is my gain.
Because of this dangerous and desperate self-interest inspired by her good work—the Lord’s work—if Sarah’s appointment book was hacked and became public, I’d suggest witness protection for those with upcoming reservations. But I wouldn’t suggest it publicly. I don’t actually want my competition protected. Not that I’m saying I’d murder anyone myself, I’m not capable of all that. But if one of Sarah’s other clients was a blood thirsty animal and went on a killing spree that created some openings, who knows, Sarah might call me to fill one. So in that case I’d keep my trap shut and never stray too far from the ding of my phone.
The next text could be from the love of my life.