Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Mario surprised me yesterday with a trip to the reflexologist. It was a lovely experience on several levels, both from a purely physical perspective, but also in the kind of mind-numbing brainlessness that I could use some of lately.

For an hour (or however long you choose) you lay back in this comfy chair while one of the talented practitioners at Angel Feet pokes and massages and pulls on your feet, ankles and hands in the most wonderful way imaginable. They were playing music (strings, in our case,) and there was a noise machine which sounded like an ocean and the occasional babble of what might have been actual water, though I could not swear to it. I was mostly concerned with trying to relax.

An interesting thing happens when you really let your mind loose. You begin to hear some things, and not others--for a time I would focus on the waves and not even be conscious of the music, and other moments the opposite. All the things which are stressing me out were still in my head, only I seemed to have placed them in a kind of mental fish hatchery, an organized system with separations, and borders which allowed each one to seem manageable, decipherable, conquerable.

The woman who worked on my feet was gentle yet firm--sometimes vaguely painful in a good way--and at the end of the session she sat next to me for a few moments to discuss all the things that are wrong with my body. "Your left leg is much more open than your right," she said. I know this. Some people show stress in their neck and shoulders, some clench their jaws or grind their teeth. All mine tends to go into my right hamstring and calf. Call me original.

She held my foot up again, "And this part has a lot of stress, you are holding it here as well." I watched her finger trace the outside of my foot, from the base of the heel up to the center of the arch. "What part is that?" I asked. She sat straight up, and indicated the muscle which sits on top part of your butt, and then just above, her lower back on the right side.

This area has indeed been causing me a lot of hassle lately. (I attribute most of the pain to me carrying around Elizabeth Kostova's 650 page novel The Historian in my bag, which rests just there on my hip as I walk. Though, if I'm going to feel discomfort, to Elizabeth's credit, I can't think of a better cause. Perhaps hurting your forearm from lifting too many toast points spread with foie gras, but that's another story entirely.)

I sat in the chair a few minutes longer in silence, my feet wrapped in a warm towel, a chenille blanket thrown over me, in the dim light listening to the ocean, until Mario peeked his face around from his side of the screen. "Are you okay," he asked. I was.

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