They Touched My Feet

So, my first day of massage school.

Didn’t start out so hot, as I raced around dropping Birdy off at daycare and stopping to buy a notebook, slid into the parking lot at exactly 9:00, spilled coffee on my required set of sheets as I was getting out of the beast, and walked into a dark classroom.

Yeah, class starts at 9:30.

And I wore my shoes into the classroom, which apparently is a no-no. Live and learn.

The class is Acupressure, applying varying degrees of pressure to very specific spots on the body to relieve all sorts of pain (also, in Acupressure, you don’t use the word “pain”, you say “sensitivity.” Live and learn again). Today was about headaches, and we jumped into table work within the first hour.

Let me make myself clear: we started touching actual other people almost first thing. Day One. As in I was squeezing a stranger’s toes by 10:30 this morning. And while I was standing next to the table with the just-out-of-high-school D&D kinda girl lying terrified on her back, I thought, “hold please. You decided you WANT to touch strangers early in the morning and any other time they will pay you to do so.” I think I am in for a lot of epiphanies.

And not that this is a bad thing—after the first go round and my shuffling hesitation, it got easier, more interesting, less weird.

When I went off to college, I arrived at a Midwestern state school where (almost) every student I encountered was my own age, same situation, and let’s face it—we all kind of look related in the Midwest anyway. This, and one Photoshop class for kicks at community college, sums up my higher-education experience.

This homogeny is not the case in massage school. One might think that attendees of massage school are a calm, enlightened, healing group of neo-hippies who compost. And while I’m all about not judging (or at least I like to say I am and kind of believe it), looking over at the two late-forties fanny-packers whispering about Harley Davidson Motorcycle shows at the fairgrounds while finding each other’s pressure points made the whole endeavor slide back into Tackyville for a minute. And I think this is a fight I’m going to fight hard in the beginning—because there seems to be a dark little bit of hocus-pocus and snake oil to the whole thing. I’m still guilty, momentarily, of discounting the path I’m actively choosing, and the cigarette-smelling pseudo-goth girl makes my brain say, “What are you doing? What the fuck are you doing?” *

It’s going to be a big learning experience, but the “academics” of it are much more organic and less about memorization and over-discussing. And I’ve been trained to be a stellar memorizer and over-discusser, thanks to the Indiana University English Department. So, in summation, my challenge for the semester is going to be more about taking myself and this craft seriously, by learning to block out the redneck element who just wants to go work in her sister-in-law’s beauty shop in her garage. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

*Okay, reading over this, I am painting a very inaccurate picture of massage school. The instructor is great. The program is more intensive than the state licensure requires. There is a lot of thinking and intuitive therapy involved. The school is an open, airy, naturally lit space in an old train station. And I think the other, advanced students in the lounge looked way more like those composters I mentioned earlier.


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