I slip through the door marked "Massage Therapy" where a young woman dressed in blue and white stripes and a fashionable fuchsia scarf awaits. I like her already--she's wearing my favorite colors.
"Are you Tania?" I ask, clutching my gift certificate for a one-hour massage.
In a few moments, I sign the waivers, leave my clothes on the bench, and slip between soft cotton sheets on the massage table--face up, knees raised.
It's two years since I've seen a massage chamber but it's easy to slide back into its sensual routine: I hear the gentle, relaxing flute sounds of the CD player, close my eyes in the darkened space, and feel my aching body settle into warmth and comfort.
I can choose between deep-tissue or light-pressure massage, the scent of massage oil or cream, whether to talk or not, sleep or stay awake for the experience, or ask for more or less heat in the room.
Tania, a Reiki Master from northern Germnay, begins by lightly pressing points on my face and circling my scalp with confident hands. Then the scent of mint floats in the air as work begins on healing my hands and arms. When she gets to my legs and feet, she discovers sand between my toes (I walked the beach prior to the appointment) and, giggling, we begin to talk.
When I ask her how it was that she came to the US, she says, "Flying". The first trip was to attend an airshow, the second for flying lessons. "The runways are so much longer and cleaner here than in Germany," she says. "Then I met my husband, who is also a pilot. Four little girls later and I'm still here!"
We chat about New Year's resolutions that her friend made...too many, she thinks, her friend needs to moderate her goals. I confess that I never make resolutions for fear of failure but I could think of a good one right now: More massages!
Halfway through the session, Tania says, "It's flip time!" and she lifts the sheet like a tent while I roll my body to the face-down position. Ahhh, back time--my favorite. Breathing in, breathing out.
Near the end of the hour, Tania notes the deep knots in my shoulders and takes extra time to break them up. "I don't like to leave projects unfinished," she says, as she continues for another twenty minutes. Such treatment makes me a client. I will make another appointment.
To finish, Tania swiftly rubs her hands together to create heat and transfers it to my back. She repeats the process three times. Marvelous.
"You must drink a LOT of water tonight," she says as she hands me a paper cup of cold water. I sip and slip out the door, reborn.