Last August I was at the massage school buying supplies. I saw a flyer for a class in this technique. It wasn’t the technique that interested me so much as it was the place. the class is taking place for 8 days in Hawaii. Now Hawaii has never been a place I wanted to go to and since I don’t have a bucket list it wasn’t on that either. The thing that caught my eye initially was the fact that it was a 48 credit class. that is a huge amount and credits and according to new york state we have to have 36 continuing education credits in order to renew your license. Mine was coming due.  As far as classes go, I don’t feel much like taking one day courses. I like immersion courses. I retain the material better. So I crunched the numbers and ended up putting the whole thing on a credit card anyway. Damn the torpedoes, I always say.

Fast forward to January.

so after all the stress from Drama and the holidays, it is the night before I am leaving. I didn’t go crazy cleaning my house although it was in pretty good shape. I didn’t need a happy pill pack and I think I did a pretty good job. I always do better with stressful chores when I am talking to Capri. I did so well I laid on my bed wondering what the hell I was forgetting and then remembering that I was only going to Hawaii and not the North Pole. I was pretty sure they had stores in Hawaii if I forgot my razor or deodorant. which by the way I did not.

The flight was from Albany to O’Hare and from there to Honolulu. Once in Honolulu, a smaller plane to the Hilo on the big Island. Going from Chicago to Honolulu was about 8.5 hours. Great I was thinking. No worries. I will binge watch something on Netflix.  I will get up every once in a while and walk around. All good. Then I remember I am me. So I get on the plane and I have a window seat. I am still a size where the seats are only normal uncomfortable.  A great relief to me. Next to.me is a tiny older lady who wouldn’t put her phone away and on the end a 20 something with his hood up the entire flight. on the flight they announced that all TV and movies on the screen attached to our seats were complimentary so sleep for me was completely out of the question. I watched 3 full movies and a bunch of TV shows. Should I have gotten up to move around? Yup. Did I, or should I say, could I? Nope. Tiny phone lady literally climed over . Hooded guy and when she came back to her seat, she slammed the arm rest on my thigh. Needless to say, I was forced to fight my temper and cramps for hours.

When we got to the airport in Honolulu, I found one of the ladies who also taking the class. She was really nice, and nearly 70. She was full of sass and when we got the gate she told me she was going to the bar. I needed to make some calls so I watched the bags.  Going to Hilo she found another girl on our trip and we not only staying in the same hotel, but all in need of a drink. We checked in, dumped the bags, walked to a restaurant and proceeded to cocktail. A few pineapple margaritas and life stories exchanged, we stumbled back to the hotel. It was 9pm and I felt like I got hit by a truck. The next day, we headed to the beach, relaxed, lunched and waited to get picked up to go to the retreat.

One of the instructors on the trip knew me from my open mic at Borders years ago. Now I almost never announce that I am a poet/writer because civilians always ask these two questions: where have you been published and can you recite a poem now. My days of moderate zine fame are behind me and go fuck yourself, I am not a trained monkey. Besides, I have always known that people who like my poetry are like men who like my shape. I am a specialty item. So now I am in Hawaii self conscious and pissed that this yenta announced my past and also asked about my ex husband. Really?  I am pissed off in paradise. FUCK!!! My head began to pound and the ride to the Buddhist Temple (where the retreat accommodations were) was like riding the mechanical bull from Urban Cowboy. Yenta was yip yapping the entire 90 minute drive on dirt roads and I found myself, once again, fighting my temper. In hindsight, Yenta was just glad to see me and in the days to come her and Kitchen Lady saved my ass. I had a migraine so bad I did not speak through supper and quietly excused myself and went to bed.

Day 1:

I got up around 5:30. The migraine broke and I felt really great. I got up and asked the extremely nice kitchen lady if I could make coffee. She said of course. I was raised to respect another woman’s kitchen. You never burst in and take over. It is the absolute hight of disrespect.  Even if you know you can do it better, it is not a territory to be conquered.  You can ask if you can help. So I did. I prepped some fruit and cut up some vegetables for roasting to be served later in the day. I felt comfortable and at home. As everyone got up I found myself just listening. Class began at 9 so we had some time to wander the grounds. The temple was on a hill and there was a very narrow staircase made of rocks leading up to it. On the way out, kitchen lady made a statement more frightening to me than when she told me it was all vegetarian for the week

KL: The peacock took a huge dump in one of the steps. Watch yourself.

Wow. Words to live by I guess.

The 9am gong sounded and we were called upstairs to class. Most massage classes, that are not medical, require you to sit in a circle. I know the drill. So we circle up and tell our names and why we “feel” are here. I had my answer on the plane and it was all business.  When it got to me, I had told everyone to just call me by my last name because there was another Mary here and it would lessen the confusion.

Yenta: Thank you for that. It will make it easier. So what got you here.

Before I could give my business like answer this flew outta my mouth:

Me: I am a shell of what I once was.

FUCK!!!!!  The last thing I wanted anyone to know was the truth. It is how I feel. I know the world is falling apart and my problems are small.  They are still mine. I am exhausted. Bottom line. Fucking exhausted.

So we do some movement.  I hate movement.  At least they made us close our eyes to lessen judgements on ourselves and others.  So we did that and some stretching and headed outside. Some points about the elements were explained to us. Also we were told that the island we were on has 7 of the 8 ecosystems on the planet all here. Since I have no idea, I take them on their word. We spent the entire morning outside in nature (yes me outside), lunched and headed off to a black sand beach.

Black sand is soo beautiful.  It is coarse and hot and shiny. It also exfoliates your feet like nothing else. I finally got cell service and made some calls. As I was talking to my sister I see something coming out of the water.

Me: Look! A hoof!

I couldn’t think of the word flipper.  We do so much dialog from Goodfellas, I automatically went with hoof. Anyway, it was a turtle. A huge one. This is lots of nature for me. I just stood at the waters edge for a long time watching the waves.  It was nice. I really do love the ocean. I also really hate hikes which is what we did next. Up a rocky hill to get a 360 view of where we were. I was getting cranky and needed to get out of the sun. I was craving a Snapple. I wanted a peach Snapple and some tweezers.  I had a chin hair that could cut a tin can. It was pissing me off hard. The two stores at the bottom of the mountain were both closed. One of the more ethnic girls had a tweezer and I finally defeated the rotten chin hair. All in all, a day of discovery and victory over evil.

Day 2:

Opinions of massage therapists vary. Some think we are doctors or hookers or guru’s or a combination of all three. I am none of those things. Aside from that, sad but true, I almost never get massage. I work all the time and would not subject anyone of my friends in the business to try to tackle my twisted body. Today I had no choice.

We did about 40 minutes of a warm up to get ready to learn the method. We got to the open air room that we were working and the only male instructor on the trip said these words:

OM: Forget everything you have learned. There won’t be a handbook. You will learn all of this through instinct.

Cool. No tests. So we begin to watch a demonstration of the back leg. We observe then work.  It is tedious at first doing an entire hour on the back of the leg.  It is intense getting the back of your legs massaged for an hour.

So I almost always choose to work first and the demo person. I find it difficult to do anything after a massage. I go to get off the table and my legs are shaking and I am drained. We went down to lunch and I was just pissed off. It happens to me sometimes. Everything pissed me off. I wanted to slap a bitch. It seemed that all of the other girls were yuking it up and my ears were not happy. The trip that afternoon was Pele’s volcano.

My mood was fitting for a volcano. We went for about 30 minutes. We were coming back to see her glow at night. We stopped a few look out points and walked a spot on the coast that was Gothic and breath taking. An arch of sort had formed in the rocks and it was amazing. The sound of the water hitting the island sounded like thunder. I could have made an entire vacation out of that spot. It was getting dark and we were headed to see her volcano.  I was damp from the rain and the ladies ( who are actually very sweet) were just pissing me off.  It was more of my physical reaction to the circulation from the massage.

The volcano was spectacular.  It will humble even the most obnoxious ego. She glows and rumbles and at any moment, if she chose, could blow your brains out. My kind of gal. I was exhausted and wonderful kitchen lady had soup waiting for us. I ate soup and went to bed.

To be continued. ..