Twenty-one years ago, I had a fourth grade teacher named Mrs. Brooks. She had a bad back and taught us kids how to rub her shoulders while she read out loud to us. I loved doing it. Somewhere along the line, I decided I wanted to do that when I grew up.
I remember telling my father in junior high that I wanted to be a masseuse. He shook his head and said, "No, you don't."
"You're gonna wind up with guys who are going to want you to 'rub something else.'"
I had no idea what he was talking about, except that my father thought it was a very bad idea and that I shouldn't do it.
At 14, I came down with Crohn's disease, an intestinal illness with no known cure and only suspicions as to its origin. I had a very severe case. I was hospitalized three times in the last two months of high school and then about once a year for several years afterwards. I had two chest catheters as long-term feeding tubes. I had my left lung punctured twice, went through multiple blood infections, and suffered from malnutrition and anemia. I developed a heart murmur due to my body devouring every bit of protein it could in what little muscle I had--then starting to break down the heart muscle. In college, I knew I had to figure out a career that would provide me with steady health insurance--meaning that massage, as well as several other things I was interested in, were right out.
More than once, I came very close to death. The worst was living in California. My IV had clogged a month before my wedding and had to be removed; at that point, I'd been on it 12 hours a day for over a year. With that calorie intake avenue closed to me, my health took a sharp downturn. In addition to the usual malnutrition/anemia, I developed osteopenia (the early stages of osteoporosis). My hair fell out. I became incredibly weak, even to the point of falling a couple of times--just . . . falling, because I was too weak to stand. My weight got down to 83 lbs (I'm 5'8"). I was 23-24 years old.
That spring, I had my large intestine taken out. It was in such bad shape that it pretty much fell apart in my surgeon's hands. My recovery, though, was complete. Although the Crohn's could come back at any time, I have been in remission for the last 6.5 years. I have put on weight and muscle and tone--people, looking at me now, usually have no hint of what I went through.
My interest in massage started to stir again. I was working with learning disabled students, using intensive brain stimulation with dyslexic and hyperlexic students to create new neural pathways in the brain and for the brain to favor those new pathways over the old, established ones. In essence, I was helping my students overcome their disabilities--and not through teaching them compensatory techniques. Healing of a sort, yes, but still not quite what I wanted to do. Massage kept nudging at me, but I didn't quite know where or what or how to go about it.
Returning home from the playa, I was laid off 2.5 days later. Lost and adrift, I started to think more and more about massage--but wasn't quite ready to jump in yet.
In February, Scooter started offering a class on his Kolaimni massage. I'd received one of those out on the playa last year, too, and found it amazing. I started going to class, thrilling in it. I also started working again, getting a job in a mortgage broker's office doing clerical work. I decided to camp with the Heebees this year, knowing that it would get me closer to my goal of going to massage school.
Due to lack of work, I got laid off in June. I did odd jobs here and there to get by. I also started looking at massage schools.
Burning Man was wonderful. I gave a few massages and greatly enjoyed them. The "click" had hit. During the "meeting everyone" circle when we set our intentions for Burning Man, I mentioned a long journey I had been on, that was accelerating more and more.
After Burning Man, I went and checked out the school I liked most--the Colorado School of Healing Arts (www.csha.com). I went into the Financial Aid office and told the woman there, "I'm broke. I have no money for school whatsoever. But I need to do this, and I need to do this NOW. Help me."
So here I sit, writing this story. Today is the first step in the last phase of my journey, the best part, the part where it all finally comes true.
Today is my first day of school. I have class in a little over an hour, and I cannot wait.