For the first time in a year, I got a massage. A few days ago I decided it was time. I looked on Craigslist, and among headlines such as

Asian Man, CMT, Will Give You a Massage That You Can’t Forget

I found a listing that caught my attention:
Strong Soft Hands + Oil + Skill = The Proper Massage Mix . I read the ad and liked how the therapist described himself, provided feedback from clients, listed his fees, and included a photo. I immediately liked his face. He has kind eyes. I checked another link in the ad; this took me a massage directory that stated the following: “Courtesy reminder: Please do not contact the provider(s) below if you’re seeking any kind of sexual, illegal or inappropriate services.” I was halfway sold.

So I called. In our brief conversation I liked his voice and his communication style. I made an appointment for a one hour session. He lives and works about two miles from me. He works out of his home. What?! I went to the home of a man I don’t know? Despite past traumatic experiences, I did, in part because I trust my intuition absolutely now and I didn’t back then. I knew that if I felt uneasy I would leave instantly. I’ve had enough massages (at one point weekly) to know the protocol. I also know the neighborhood where he lives, that there is a preschool nearby and lots of people activity in the complex where he lives.

What followed was the most unusual massage I’ve ever had, but this doesn’t mean anything negative. The unusual aspects were:

1. He explained that he doesn’t have crystals and other new-age accessories because that’s not him, and the music he plays is different: BB King, Bonnie Raitt, Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Willie Nelson, and Marvin Gaye are just a few. I enjoyed the change of pace from New Age Muzak (of which I own quite a bit and listen to; and no, the term “new age muzak” is not redunant!).

2. We talked through most of the massage. I got to know a bit about him personally: how he got into the profession, other work he’d done, how he met his wife, his cross-cultural marriage and experiences, his kids, and his memories of Binghamton, NY (he was very pleased to learn I grew up in Syracuse). I told him a bit about my life in Syracuse and Austin, my profession. We also communicated about the pressure and areas of pain; he was very responsive to each request. He lost track of time from talking so much, and he extended the session at no charge so he’d finish the massage properly. He was also honest and told me to be clear with him if he talked too much ever and I wanted quiet. While I usually do want quiet, I rather enjoyed the conversation as part of a getting acquainted process. If you’re going to let someone rub your body, it’s nice to know a little about who that person is, particularly if the therapist did not come personally recommended by a trusted friend.

3. He had the cutest little dog, a Pomperanian with a summer haircut, who is so attached to him that the dog (Copper) lay on the floor napping the whole time. A man with a sweet-natured dog is probably a decent man.

After the massage, he brought me a glass of water (after asking if I wanted room temperature or chilled) and gave me several minutes to collect myself. Then I paid him, we exchanged a hug, and I left feeling buoyant and relaxed — a hundred times better than I have in months, in fact. I plan to go back. If you live in the area, his name is Tony Drake.

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3 Comments on “Heaven”

  1. Denise Says:

    Hello! i have ben reading your blog for a couple of weeks now and see that you are from Syracuse. I live in Fayetteville although I am from downstate. Just thought I’d send you a greeting from CNY.

  2. kate Says:

    . . . don’t you think a really good massage therapist is a mix of friend and physician? I’m so glad you went and had such a luscious down to earth experience . . . the new age hoohah is just silly . . . just get down to bidness and let the healing begin! 🙂 yay for you . . .

  3. Karma Says:

    Good for you! I’ve started getting a massage weekly, and it is such a healing experience for me. Don’t wait another year until your next massage.