Next year will be my ten-year anniversary as a massage therapist. Massage therapy is about my fifth career so far. I’m happy to walk you through the other four (or so), but not right now. Today I’m thinking about how I got here, to this career, the one that has lasted the longest.
About a decade ago, I worked as a marketing assistant at a big, fancy retirement community. My job involved supporting the sales team, helping with events, and sometimes helping new residents move in. For some new residents, I went to their homes and helped them measure out their new apartment and what could fit into the space. I bent down to count outlets and find the exact placement of cable jacks in their new space. This all happened in between doing all the office and administrative support work that was part of my job.
My favorite parts of my job were these moments working directly with the new residents. I remember one day, I stayed in a new resident’s apartment to direct the movers while she took care of things at her old home. She had a beloved Turkish rug cleaned and delivered to the apartment first thing in the morning. I pulled the rug into the apartment and unrolled it in her bedroom, delighted to find that it fit the room exactly. While I straightened the rug and checked it, I called her to let her know it fit. I heard her smile through the phone.
The rest of that afternoon, I sat at my desk running marketing reports and updating our database. It was mind-numbing. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I left the Sales Office to go take a walk around the community. I pretended to check on all the common spaces since we had an event later in the week. Near the large community room, I ran into Mrs. G, who I helped move in about a month before.
“I met some lovely women at lunch today,” she said. “They were also your chickens.” Mrs. G called herself, and everyone whose move I assisted, my “chickens.” Slightly agitated, somewhat befuddled but carefully tended, and definitely well-loved. The metaphor made me smile.
The job, I realized, as I walked down the hall, did not. The best parts of my day were the moments were I got to work directly with the residents in some way, to be of service. I wanted something that involved direct care. I circled past the nurses’ office and considered becoming a nurse, then realized that the nurse had strict, short time constraints on most visits.
I wanted something where I could spend more time. As I walked back towards the Sales Office I remembered an idea from a long time ago — massage therapy. Direct care. Lots of time. Being of service. It felt perfect.
So, that is how I first started looking into massage schools — 12 years after I first had the idea of becoming a massage therapist. But that’s a story for another time.