Thursday, February 19, 2009

Launches and Chance-Met Cats

I know, I've been scarce. The unread blog posts are piling up in Google Reader: pretty soon I'll have to repudiate my blogging debts by taking the drastic measure of clicking the "mark all as read" button.

I've been busy. I'm signed up as a "preferred vendor" with the concierge services at three apartment/condo complexes. Which meant that I had to come up with a brochure in a hurry, and deal with obscure liability insurance issues, and also meant, last night, attending a "concierge services launch" -- standing for a couple hours in a lobby with pet groomers, maids, dog walkers, girl fridays, the zip car people, and my fellow massage therapist, so the quality could come by and have a look at us: we stood behind tables with our brochures and flyers spread out in front of us. There was wine and finger food.

Well, it's not the sort of thing I shine at. I smiled amiably at the residents, who were astonishingly young. As it got more party-like and the noise level increased I could distinguish absolutely nothing that anyone said, except the girl friday on my left, who had one of those clear, bell-like voices that I love. As the ineptness of the rest of us became evident she took on more and more of the burden of marketing us all. I have always deeply admired people who have social skills with strangers. It proceeds, it seems to me, from a fundamental trust in their goodness, which, as a Buddhist, I applaud, but which, as someone who grew up a shy, weird kid in American public schools, I've never managed to emulate. I just know that strangers are waiting to tape a "kick me" sign to my back, and snap their towels at me in the locker room.

So I have two more of these events to attend, tonight and tomorrow night. After that I should be around the cyberhood more.

A lovely, lovely massage last night, after the "launch," with one of my oldest clients: you learn so much more about someone's body every time you work with them, and you get so can recognize new issues and head them off before they settle in -- that tightness around the knee that would be trouble in a week or two if we didn't get it unwound; that little hesitation in turning the head that bids fair to become a snarl of lev scap trigger points if it's not worked hard. And you just find out what works and what doesn't. The same way you learn how your cat likes to be petted, that she loves smoothing back the whiskers, say, but doesn't care for the tummy rub. I treasure my steady clients. Not to put too fine a point upon it, I adore them. I spend a fair amount of time mulling over what I should do next time; where I should focus, and what sequencing will work best.

It's such a simple relationship, so uncluttered with words or status, a purely private compact, which has no social implications or expectations beyond the space of the session. One of my favorite interactions has always been that of an unplanned love-fest with a chance-met cat, when I'm out on a walk. Certain gregarious cats -- or is it just any cat, in a particular mood? -- will run out to greet you, especially on a chilly day, and you can squat on the sidewalk and have a glorious petting feast, purring and stroking in a perfect orgy of mutual appreciation. And then, just as abruptly, the cat's had enough: that's all, done for now! And walks off with its tail in the air. The relationship's over, but there's no recrimination, no disappointed hopes, no implicit contract broken. It might happen again on this street. Might not. No problem, either way.

Now, this is not the way I want my family- and love-life to be. Human love inevitably ramifies into the past and the future, expectations and history tangle and implicate, and I wouldn't want it any other way. But massages, and chance-met cats, are wonderfully restorative. I would find life without them very difficult.

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