If I could Match.Com me a perfect doesn’t-have-to-talk companion his name would be Sven and he would be a 6’4” Swedish masseuse. Instead I’m following a tiny Russian woman to a suspect back room to get mostly naked and shell out the equivalent of a Tiny House Nation mortgage for a professional rubdown. I hope. Orrrrrr ……. I’m about to be herded into a waiting trailer and sold into an international sex trafficking ring Taken style sans Liam Neeson’s phone number for a rescue. Only the next 100 minutes will tell.
Yes. One hundred minutes. I sprang for it. In Real Life I have the Moderately Sized House Single Girl Mortgage. Luxuries like massages and socks without holes went out the window after signing on that dotted line. But this is Vacation. On Vacation (brought to you by Visa!) my Why Not/Carpe the Damn Diem attitude is in full swing. It leads me here to a “Spa/Salon” combo about an hour after I had the thought to indulge myself, towering over Oksana in a storefront smelling vaguely of wet dog. Have I mentioned I’m barely over 5’ myself? I don’t get to tower very often. But I shouldn’t underestimate Natasha. Turns out she’s 100 lbs. of Russian Steel.
There was a time long ago, when my lifescape was filled with quite a few more Disposable Income Trees, I would indulge in a professional massage two to three times a year. Back then I didn’t understand why other people said massages can hurt in the pursuit of their ultimate release. Back then the stress alien hadn’t taken up residence in the vertebral border of my right scapula. And How! How he’s made himself comfortable over the years. As I’ve aged I’ve realized I hold most of my tension in my shoulders and upper back. Specifically, my right shoulder blade just next to the spine where it feels like an interloper set up camp in an ever expanding penthouse condo. Right now he’s deciding if the terrace should wrap around to my armpit or cascade down to my sciatica. Big plans this guy. My stress alien fancies himself an architect in building new walls of tension within my connective tissue. His name is Fred.
Svetlana is not to be deterred though. She’s ready to lob cannon fire at those walls. The hot stones are scorching my skin, a first line attack trying to beat my muscles into early submission. Fred is digging in deep, readying to ride out the siege. He’s filling vats of boiling oil, piling up the sandbags, preparing to combat Natalya’s encroaching onslaught of kneading and releasing. She retaliates with volleys of “Holy-Shit-I-Can’t-Breathe” pressure to unravel all the knots, admonishing me to exhale as white hot heat ratchets through my neck. Her fingers are a striking iron to the tightest of places, scalding them into surrender.
I’m not sure exactly when in those 100 minutes I start contemplating the why of how I came to hold all this tension. It was probably somewhere in the 15 minutes of torture Ivanka spent on a particularly stubborn knot in my left calf, actually whispering “Relax” directly to my muscles in a desperate plea of negotiation. She was ready for this war to end. How many people can say a tiny Russian woman murmured words of encouragement to a body part in a somewhat shady back room? Wait. That didn’t come out right……..
So, why do I need Tatyana to whisper to my muscles? Why must she battle Fred’s encampment with such vigor? Because Adulting is hard. Mortgages and responsibilities and the trudging of every day can be a wearisome, weighing burden, especially when shouldered alone. In Single Girl Life there is no back-up. If something happens to me there is no second income. I’m bankrupt. There is no net. The thought is soul crushing enough if dwelled upon. Even without dwelling the knowledge is always there in the background. Fred stacks another brick.
I also realized somewhere around minute 90 that in Single Girl Life I don’t have this daily outlet to help alleviate some of that crushing weight. Not that I require a deep tissue massage every day… but if you do know a 6’4” Swede named Sven willing to provide—please feel free to send him this way. Really it’s just the simple power of touch.
We underestimate its importance when we have it in our lives. We take it for granted. On National Hugging Day there’s a hundred memes about how a 20 second hug releases oxytocin and lowers cortisol. Yes, I know that’s just another arbitrary declaration day on the calendar. My Crunchy Shell Self just rolled her eyes for you. But the Gooey Center Me recognizes the truth that we are social creatures.
We crave physicality. We crave connection.
I crave physicality even though Crunchy Shell often and loudly proclaims the personal bubble. I crave connection. A caress of the cheek, a shoulder squeezed gently. These are the small, tangible expressions of care that tell us we are loved, that we are connected, that there is someone invested in lightening the proverbial load. A soft, glancing graze across our backs in passing serves to soften us. To live without sharpens the edges. A decade living alone without that daily physical manifestation of connection creates a minefield of honed stalagmites, whetted and hardened. It’s no wonder Veronika has to apply so much pressure she’s practically cracking my ribs.
At the close of our time my tiny Russian leaves me in a hazy lump. I’m greased in a layer of oils, assessing how best to slide my molten form off the table without miscalculating and banging my head on the floor. I am liquid and languid. In Real Life it takes the potent combo of Hatha Yoga and a bottle of strong Shiraz to get this lusciously loosened. On Vacation (brought to you by Visa!) apparently all it takes is 100 minutes with the robust fingers of a spritely, determined Russian. She’s basically packed in six months’ worth of human touch, softening all my edges.
Then I pay and tip her generously (Visa!) for the heady drunk feeling in my muscles and my mind. I turn on my phone as I exit. Real Life crashes in. My house sitter left three messages about my heat not working in my Northeastern home. In winter. About 3 days before I get Dumped by Jonas (my wintery weather fling outlined in Dumped by Jonas: I Get By). Fred already has the foundation laid. He’s raising the scaffolding. I think he’s sketching plans for an atrium this time around……
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