My back hurt a lot. It started to get on my nerves that every single morning, without fail, I woke up with every bone in my body aching as if I had been practicing some gymnastics routine while sleeping. I didn’t know if it was the mattress or if my sleep routine had somehow been disrupted. Whatever it was, I had to find a solution fast or my spine would be gravely affected and I would have to sleep on the floor. I would have wanted to change the mattress but that wasn’t really an option: I lived in a rented room and the owner might have an opinion about it. Besides, even if I could do it, I didn’t have the amount of money to allow myself to do such an investment. So the mattress, even if it was the wrong one, was not the answer to my problems.
So I decided to do something for myself. My body was in pain and I needed to make it better, to be able to walk in the morning without feeling hundreds of knives penetrating my skin. So I decided to try some exercises before and after sleeping time but that wasn’t a very good idea. Not only because I had never done any exercise whatsoever, but also because they didn’t seem to be affecting my sleep. Sometimes I moved less during the night but I had the same back pain as always. I was grateful that hadn’t worked because it could be quite an annoyance to workout just before and after you sleep. I mean, those are the two worst moments of the day to do any physical activity, even if I had been willing to do so. There had to be a better idea, more suited to me.
It came to my attention one day, while I was taking a walk around the neighborhood. I was new to the area so I wanted to know about all the restaurants, supermarkets and stores in general that operated around my building. Two streets over, I discovered a spa. The entrance was quite small and, thank God, there was a list of prices and procedures on the window, so I didn’t have to go in. They specialized in massaged, have all kinds of them. Maybe that was what I needed: someone to undo all the knots on my back so I could sleep better during the nights. And the price was not too high so if I started feeling in pain again, I could come back in a month or two. I was about to go in but something made me think it twice.
I went back home and, like an obsessive person, I decided to know about all the types of massages so to know the best one for me. Many were Asian and I had read stories about massage parlors there. I doubted the spa I passed by was a place like that. Anyway, they were very complete and did want something that was rather aggressive. I wanted them to “rearrange”, if that’s possible, all my muscles and bones and make me be able to walk again without having to complain bout something. I then stopped obsessing about it and just assured myself I would go to the spa the next day.
And I did. It was a Saturday so this time around there were two people in the waiting room, a very small space with two chairs. I had to wait standing up, which was kind of funny considering I had come because my body ached. Anyway, it was not a long wait. Each one of us was directed to different rooms and was asked to undress and put on a gown similar to the ones used in hospitals. Not that I had ever used one but I had seen those many times. The woman that had led me there also told me to lay down on the table, face down of course, and wait there for the masseuse. I did as I was told, leaving all my clothes in a neat pile ad tightening my gown a bit. I lay down in the table and just waited there for five, then ten minutes. I was a bit sleepy when, finally, the door flung open and a man’s voice greeted me.
I said “Hi”, in almost inaudible register. I couldn’t see more than his legs, as I was on the table with my face on a hole, but I could see his yellow Crocs, moving from one side to the other. He was apparently feeling some form and stretching or so it seemed. He asked me how I felt. I told him my story with the bed and my sleeping “disorder”. He was listening carefully, his feet still all the time. He resumed his walking when I finished and just asked me which scent I liked better: cinnamon or oranges? I chose cinnamon, so he walked out of sight but by the sound I realized he used a lighter and suddenly the room smelled like my favorite type of cappuccino. He also put on some music and I had the weird feeling of being in a really strange blind date.
Then he started, rather predictably, on my back. I could feel he had big hands or maybe they were just very well suited for this work. I have to say I relaxed immediately. He was using my flesh as clay and it felt really good. Besides, the music and the scent really helped to make the room feel less like a doctor’s office and more like a nice room in one’s house. I closed my eyes for a good while, as he worked on my whole back, moving up and own, and possibly helping himself with some oil. I could smell almonds. Then I realized I had thought I was going to have a woman massage therapist but maybe a man was more suited in my case because of the great pain I was in.
Then he spoke and I just opened my eyes, as if I had slept with him. What an odd feeling… He asked me if the pain was only concentrated on my back or if the rest of the body hurt as well. I told him the pain was all over but that it was stronger on my back. I saw his Crocs moving and his ankles going up and down, as if he was exercising right there. Maybe he thought I was with my eyes closed. He then told me he was going to do a full massage, trying to liberate the tension from every muscle he thought might have been affected by many nights of bad sleep. He said it just like if he knew me and, frankly, I loved that. I closed my eyes and stood still again, waiting for him to continue.
I gasped when he grabbed the knot I had made behind my back and released it easily, relieving my whole backside to him. For a moment I thought about standing up and going straight to the front desk to accuse him of sexual assault but then he started massaging my thighs and I realized he had needed to do that to continue the work. Anyway, been touched there wasn’t very common for me so it felt very strange but also very good. Apparently, there was a lot of tension there too. He did bot thighs, then calves and feet. He finished by ding my back and my shoulders and spraying some scent I couldn’t identify all over my body. I guessed it was something to do with aromatherapy. When he was finished, he just walked out and I didn’t have the chance to thank him.
The following days were perfect. My back felt like new and the rest of my body too. I was even able to do some exercise without suffering and had learned how great it was to give myself a foot massage every so often, specially as I walked around so much. Sometimes I found myself trying to picture how my masseuse looked like but it was a very hard thing to do. I just had his voice, a little deep but not to much, his yellow Crocs and his small exercises while at work. It was almost impossible to create an accurate depiction of him in my mind and I just let it go when I realized he had done a great job and that had to be enough for my brain. Maybe if I went back there, I would see him.
I eventually did come back but this time it was a woman who did the massage and I was too ashamed to ask for the man that had done the massage the last time. Maybe they would think I was obsessed or that I had a complaint of some kind. So I just kept it for myself. To be honest, the woman did a good job but I still felt the man’s hands and thought they had been created for the job. I was thinking about it too much. So just after the massage I decided to go to the market and just relax buying fruit. The place was very big but not really crowded. I decided to buy some apples and oranges. I committed the stupidity of grabbing an orange in the base of the pile, so others fell to the floor. I caught all except one.
I went after the orange, walking slowly and crouching to see where it had gone. I finally saw it beneath a vegetable stand selling organic products so I just crawled and took it. When I did, I felt relieved. But soon, I felt a mix of emotions I still have no idea how to explain. There, just a meter away, there were two yellow Crocs, moving exactly like that time in the spa. I got out of there and saw the man working in the organics products stand. Somehow, I felt I knew him so I just waved at him and said “Hi”. He turned to look at me and, surprisingly, he smiled. He waved back and walked towards me. Something happened there and I wanted to know what.