I don’t know why I gravitate to herbal medicine books and crafting spa products. Maybe it was when I had my very first spa experience. I was stationed in Puerto Rico in the late 90s. My friend was young and pretty and of Indian descent. Her name was Shiva. She invited me to go with her for a massage appointment at the resort down the street. The first stop was the registration desk. We were offered slippers and a very plush bathrobe and directed to the changing area. I didn’t know what to expect but I followed Shiva’s lead. I took a shower and used the shampoo and conditioner and liquid soap in the stall. They were all eucalyptus. I wore a bathing suit (at her recommendation) and took a dip in the hot tub. I sat there for at least 5 minutes, sweating and then relaxing. When I got out, I rinsed off with a cool spray and then followed Shiva to the sauna. I was oh so limp. After about 30 minutes we went back to the showers and changed out of our swimsuits into just underwear and the robe. When we finally got to the massage area there was a waiting room. There were lounge chairs and spa magazines and different teas. Shiva was called in first so I drank some tea and picked up a magazine
The people depicted in spa magazines seemed rich. They also looked very happy. I longed to look and feel like those pictures. I was called in and I followed my masseuse to a small room with very low lighting and soft music. There was a splashing fountain to the side. I was instructed to disrobe and drape the towel she had there and generally make myself comfortable. At first I was tense. I don’t like being naked, anyway, and I especially didn’t want to be naked in front of a stranger – no matter how reassuring. I grudgingly removed my clothes, hung up the robe on a hook on the back of the door, laid down on the table (face down) and covered myself. The towel was more like a bath sheet – thick terry and huge so I felt a bit more comfortable.
Different massage therapists have different techniques for administering their skills. For a first experience it was fabulous. I was hooked. I wanted to book a massage every week but on a sailor’s pay that wasn’t practical. I soaked in the smells and the sounds and the ambiance. I vowed to make a living at it – or at the very least – a life.