I’m lying face down as her strong, thin hands press into my back. The pain shoots from my shoulders down my arms to my tingling hands. I’m having a hard time relaxing under the pressure, months of stiffness sitting and typing at my computer feel like they are being forced painfully out of my fingertips every time her hands press down.
I am worried about finals. I am worried about my hair. I am worried that she’ll hurt her hands squeezing all the worry out of my tense body. Her long red hair tickles my neck and I listen to her talk about her landlord who is trying to kick her and her 14 year old daughter out of their house. About her last landlord who kicked them out of their place in the Mission District a couple years ago saying he would move into the house they had lived in. She drove by the other day and its for sale.
She tells me about her daughter who is finally able to feed herself breakfast. The struggle with bulimia isn’t over, may never be over. But they’re working on it together, and healing together every day.
She tells me how hard it is to get old. How, when she was a model everyone treated her so differently, how her value became equated with her beauty. It is hard to watch her body change, injured by the daredevil inside her who risked everything on her motorcycle, and by the passing of time, but still her hands are so strong.
When we are quiet I sink into my own heart, feel the pain that she won’t be able to work out, no matter how hard she presses. It had been years since I felt the deep despair of heartbreak; when my lover told me over the phone that they wanted our romance to transition into friendship I couldn’t have anticipated spending this week sick to my stomach, how hard it would be to eat, to dance, to think.
Down the street the police told the older woman living in a stranger’s truck she had to leave. Someone had been driving around the neighborhood taking photos of houseless people and sending them to the cops. The last walls between my friend and the street are quickly ripped away. Another friend saw a bird for the first time from the bars in his prison cell, on his way out of ten years of solitary confinement.
No matter how hard these hands squeeze they can’t reach those dark places of my heart where the violence of the world is tucked. These fingers can’t pry out the tears I have yet to cry over my lover. They can’t stop the landlord from evicting the single mama and her daughter during the school year, or the cop from evicting the houseless woman from her car onto the cold streets.
I want to get up from the table and apologize a million times for any harm done to those precious hands with their tremendous healing power. All of these touches should be hers to give, but I am buying them with my dollars, which will go as far as they do toward paying the exorbitant rent she shouldn’t ever have to pay. So I stay face down on the table.
When I do get up from the table I can feel that some of the weight is lifted, that my body feels more human than it did this morning, hunched over the screen. Healed from the shared burden of tense muscle and heavy stories, we fall into each others arms, laughing.
PS Lauren Montana shares a really wonderful massage experience. Hit me up for a referral!