VISITING THE PROMISED LAND.

I have an old, dear friend named Sarah, who was one of my first ‘work friends’ after college. We both worked at this after-school art program through the Dougherty Arts Center, and we clicked instantly. I deemed her my “pixie princess friend from the forest,” and if you met her, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about.

These days, Sarah is a massage therapist at Mecca — that lofty spa in the sky on S. Lamar — and late last year, she asked me if I’d like to come in. Have a rub. Have a drink. Have a laying-of-hands.

“Um…YES,” I wrote back. “I would like to have all those things.”

Sometimes, I don’t know what to do with fancy places. Ok, I’m lying — I know exactly what to do. Soak it all in, relish in the luxury, tipple and giggle…I’m actually quite good at these tasks. But I guess what I’m trying to say is, I book myself more appointments with witch doctors (spirit animal healers and the like) these days than spas proper, and don’t always know the exact spa protocol.

Fortunately, I had to do very little.

Sarah (who I wish I could show you here, but alas, I didn’t take a good picture. Just imagine a fair, petite girl with red curls, green eyes, and a dusting of freckles, who really is just as adorable as the image you just conjured in your mind) led me to this secret little room where there was not only a massage table, but a SHOWER. One with several spigots dotted along metal polls, which swung out from the ceiling.

“Are you going to bathe me?”

Sarah laughed.

I did all the usual spa things — traded my clothes for a towel, laid down on the table.

“Let me tell you how this is going to work,” Sarah said.

She told me that, as a matter of fact, she was going to bathe me. All my lady bits would be covered and I would be laying down, of course, but — yeah. I gon’ get exfoliated.

“Then you’ll go to another room, and get a regular massage with shea butter. You’re gonna slide out of this place,” she smiled.

It was such a stark contrast to the one other time this happened to me.

Right after Sarah and I met actually, Ross and I went to India for a summer (I’m sorry if you’ve heard me tell this story a million times) — which, oh my gosh, was about eight years ago. We lived at a school, and just up the road was a little old lady who gave massages. For them, you wore no bathrobe, no towel, no nothin’: It was just you, her, and the holy spirit of Ganesh! Afterward, she walked you over to a (tiny) shower, and rubbed you down with this stuff called ground green gram, which is basically powdered lentils. Apparently, they make an excellent exfoliant.

I think about that lady from time to time, because she was my first example of a really excellent healer. Do you know what I mean? I wasn’t even looking for that at the time — I just wanted a cheap massage. But she was so nurturing that you, in your vulnerable, naked state, instantly trusted her.

Sarah is this kind of gentle spirit too, and coincidentally, she is also in India at this very moment getting her own yoga teacher certification. Needless to say, the massage and rub-down she gave me at Mecca was amazing, and not just physically. We’re talking blue pearl experience, people — or at least something close to it.

(Sarah made me a cute little cocktail too, which I believe comes with this particular treatment.)

Now tell me, Reader.

Have you ever gotten a massage, and felt almost tipsy afterwards? (In my case, maybe I actually was tipsy.)

I wonder if this happens because we’re normally so bound up, so “together,” that relaxation this deep feels off-centering? But pleasant, too — a letting go of sorts?

If that’s the case, maybe I can forget wine…and just get more massage.

*A special thanks to Miss Sarah for inviting me into Mecca and giving me this wonderful little treatment. I miss you and hope you are having a magical time in India!