By Jeanne Arnold
A day of self-indulgence awaited me, one so extremely nurturing that I wept at the start of it, my most extravagant day. And I needed it.
I was delighted with my view on this August morning’s drive on Highway 1 to Freestone, California. The Pacific Ocean’s fog hung over the mountains with sunny fields of produce growing in flat valleys. Suddenly the road curved and narrowed with forests of redwood trees reaching for the sky. Soon my rented zippy blue Neon car pranced through the garden gate like a pony when I entered the Osmosis Enzyme Bath and Massage.
A bit early and excited, I walked quietly past the morning’s dew on the foliage with two happy snails the size of chocolate-covered cherries inching along on a large leaf. I picked up one and she observed me closely. Her antenna waved at me and her sluggish face, mouth and body evolved slowly into jelly shapes—a primal form yet incredibly complex for my understanding.
After entering the old-style California frame building, I was asked to leave my shoes outside before being escorted into the tearoom. In it, a wall of glass revealed an exquisite Japanese garden larger than several tennis courts with rippling water running under an arched bridge, trickling down stones and falling into a goldfish pond below me.
Dana appeared carrying a tray of hot tea with enzymes powder and explained, “for your insides to match the bath enzymes that will warm your outsides.” I was sitting cross-legged on a low cushion gazing at the garden and sipping my tea when she slipped in and surprised me by wrapping a heated pillow around my shoulders. Its immediate warmth reached into my spirit to break down my stress from how many months? Years?
After a few formalities, like undressing, I slipped into a white kimono and told Dana, “I’m into women’s spirituality and this is an extremely profound experience for me.” I started to tear up again because of the deep feeling for all this, for the anticipation of what’s to come, and for the joy of indulging myself and my worthy body.
I entered a heated room fragrant from two cedar-filled, king-sized, ground-level pools that contained a mix of firm brown granules. Dana had shaped a body-sized depression in the granules just waiting to embrace me. Windows revealed another view, a different Japanese garden, this time with deep green Bonsai-style trees as tall as the huge stones standing next to them. Parallel lines in the pebbly sand created a meandering path as if to ask, “Where are you going?”
Dana helped me slide my bare body into the depression, and with her hands she gently scooped the warm concoction of cedar fiber bits, rice bran and enzymes to cover me. The mix gently fizzed and fermented. The concept blew my mind—and other areas as well. The fragrance, tiny wisps of steam, the heated heavy granules embraced me in its earthy elements, enfolding me, holding me like a soft but heavy blanket wrapped around a newborn.
I opened myself to the total touch by flexing my fingers and arms, relaxing my shoulders and parting my legs to make room for the warmth to cover as much of my skin as it could reach—and heal. My hands and fingers wanted to be blessed by the warmth, especially my writing hand. I blessed my arm and shoulder to reach my writer’s brain and connect with whatever creative power that’s inside me.
I was alone and fermenting except when Dana would enter to stroke my face and head with a cool, damp towel. Twenty-minutes flew by and just in time because I was melting. She helped me get out and stand like Venus rising from the sea. With coconut-colored cedar dust and rice granules sticking to me, she led me outdoors to a secluded space and brushed the granules off my body. Next, a glorious soft shower cooled me and shed what may have remained of the enzyme dust. When Dana left for towels, I applied water directly to orifices and areas that may have been missed.
Wrapped tightly in a blanket, I felt like a chrysalis—more than a mere cocoon. I was placed on an oriental floor pad and pillows, a cushion covered my eyes and earphones sent sounds of waterfalls, crickets and New Age music in one ear and out the other.
Only too soon did Niki, a masseuse, wake me, gently touching me zoning out in my chrysalis. A small, mature woman, yet youthful and supple, she unwrapped me from my blanket, draped me in a smooth white sheet, took me by the hand and guided my drowsy self into her room where I landed on her massage table.
Trust. Starting with my feet and working up my body, she applied her entire strength to soothe and stimulate, to treat and heal, to touch each spot on my once aching back firmly with her knowing hands. Repeating the process when I turned over, I opened my eyes to see her quietly climbing on top of me to pressure her body’s weight against mine. She propped my legs against her body and rocked me. She maneuvered me so knowingly, so firmly that when she kneaded the palms of my hands, I felt tingling in my feet.
I thought of the many times I’ve rejected massage: “Too expensive. Too indulgent. I don’t need it. Save the money.” But not this time.
Before the end of my seventy-five minutes with her, she gently stroked oil into my skin that balanced my five senses but sapped what was left of my common sense. I dressed. We hugged and I whispered in her ear, “Marry me please. I’ll take you home to Wisconsin and I’ll support you and any children if you’ll do this to me on a regular basis.”
She laughed as she opened the door for me to reenter the lobby. I put on my shoes and prepared myself for my next adventure this afternoon.
Next week— A day of self-indulgence. Part 2 of 2
Unsung Women: the Un-known Herstory History
Submit written nominations about past or present women from Racine/Kenosha whose contributions to the wellbeing of our families, churches, schools, communities and beyond who have not or have been UNder acknowledged.
Four UNsung women nominees will be selected from January through May, 2022
The nominator is asked to provide:
• answers to Who, What, When, Where, How and Why details of your nominee’s herstory in a document or resume format.
• photographs, drawings, illustrations to enhance herstory;
• a reference person or documentation serving as evidence of proof.
Submit your nomination details to <email@example.com> with your name and where you may be reached.
Please do not nominate women who have already been “sung.”