I first met my esthetician/friend Tara when I was a few months shy of getting married, and she was working out of a pretty little spa room in my gym. As a bride, at the time I thought it was all about me,* and so would schedule regular appointments for both facials and waxing. After all, I was getting married, and deserved to feel pretty and pampered at every turn.
Shortly after I was done being a bride, I became a divorcée. I no longer felt like I deserved much of anything, but when Tara heard about the sudden turn my life story had taken, she insisted I schedule an appointment for a facial. “We won’t do any extractions or peels,” she promised. “This one is just for you to relax.” I was reluctant to give myself the gift of relaxation, but I went anyway, and discovered that it wasn’t my gift to give; it was Tara’s. The facial was on her, because she still felt I was worthy of being pampered – in spite of my recent, humiliating status change, or maybe because of it.
Three years later, Tara co-owns her own salon and boutique in downtown San Diego’s adorable Little Italy community.** I get waxing from her regularly, and try to find space in my schedule and wallet to get facials twice a year. (Tara would prefer I get them quarterly, but in order to do that, I might have to kick the habit of buying cute dresses from her shop.)
This afternoon was one such appointment. I’d never been to the salon on a Saturday before, and it was a whole other world from my usual Thursday morning gig. There was a bridal party having a girls’ day, complete with a tea party in the boutique’s garden. The place was like a virtual baby factory: one of the manicurists had brought her nine-week-old son to work, and another employee was pregnant. A middle-aged woman came in to buy a gift certificate for her daughter, who, she explained, “comes here all the time.” There were Saturday shoppers wandering in off the streets of Little Italy, pausing to look around, trying on dresses, and asking whether anyone had time for a quick brow touch-up. I bought a little black dress to wear to Doug’s mom’s 50th birthday party at the end of April, then retreated to the calmly lit treatment room.
As I lay on the table beneath a fuzzy blanket, I tried to forget about the chaos of the past few days. Instead, I pointed my focus toward all the individual sensations involved in getting a facial. I tried to place the scents of the various products: eucalyptus-mint, pumpkin pie, and honeydew candy. I let the steam from the vaporizer fill my pores and my lungs. I actively felt the roughness of the scrub, the tingle of the warm towels, and the cool smoothness of Tara’s hands as they worked across my skin.
I listened to the zen-instrumental music playing in the treatment room, as well as the footsteps and conversations coming from the other side of the door. I thought about all the different stages of life represented in that building, and all the different moments in a woman’s life that are worth acknowledging and celebrating: weddings, anniversaries, divorces, pregnancies, births, deaths, promotions, losses, birthdays, good days, bad days, every day.
On this perfectly ordinary Saturday, which had begun with a bike ride and coffee with one girlfriend and would end with shopping and wine with another, I lay on the table under Tara’s attentive gaze and unrelentlessly positive energy, and I rested my hands on my belly. I felt its flatness, the points of my hipbones punctuating the potential of my latent sexuality, and I gracefully acknowledged the heartbeat that resides in it: my own.
This is life, and I am in it.
*Brides are not so different from pregnant women in this way, are they? I wonder if there’s a blog community of singletons out there regularly bashing the smug-engaged and smug-married like we do to the smug-pregnant and smug-mommies around here…
**If you live in Southern California, and we are friends, and you haven’t begged me to take you here yet, what the hell are you waiting for?!
No poem today.
This whole post has felt like writing poetry. If you like, create a found poem from the post itself (pull words and phrases directly from the text and string them together – in any order – to make a poem; you can use a few of your own words if necessary as well). Post it in the comments. I’d love to see what you come up with. We will return to our regularly scheduled Lenten Poetry Challenge on Monday.