Massage Tales

In Waves

My client is an artist.  She regularly shows and sells her work at galleries in the nearby suburb.  She also has Parkinson’s, so I’m not sure if she is creating new work.  She tells me she used to receive massage every week when she was younger, but that she hasn’t had a massage in over 12 years.  She has forgotten that I massaged her once a month for a time last year, but I let that go.  

She speaks clearly and with deep intelligence, but her cadence is stilted.  Her speech pattern resembles a particularly adept computer voice simulation.  Unconsciously, unnecessarily, I slow down my own speech.

She climbs onto the table, and I hold her in my arms like a child to help her gently lie down.  Once we have pillows in place and she is comfortable, she closes her small, piercing blue eyes and goes right to sleep.  I give her a gentle massage, slow and still with respect to her thinning skin.  I am struck by her arms.  Her upper arms are soft, fleshy.  Her forearms, however, are wiry and dense.  I can feel in her muscles the years of holding a paintbrush, moving canvases and mixing colors. 

She falls deeply asleep during the 30-minute session.  She is my last client of the night, so when I wake her to tell her the session is over, I tell her she can lie there until she feels ready to sit up.  She is grateful, and asks for a few minutes.  I sit in a chair in the corner of the room, while she rests on the table.  While I sit quietly, watching to make sure she is in no distress, I start to catch and match the pattern of her breath — or maybe she catches mine.  I feel a warm surge traveling around the room.  A wave.  A cotton sheet in a summer breeze.  The first touch of brush on canvas.  In the few minutes after the massage is done and before she is ready to get up, I find utter stillness.  I reconnect to my purpose.  

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