Tag Archives: love

White Lies and Valentines

Every once in a while, one of my clients innocently asks, “Are you married?” This always stops me in my tracks. Even if I see it coming, it forces me to pause, to think about how to answer.

I’m a massage therapist. Basically, I go into a dark room with naked strangers for a living. There is, of course, much more to a therapeutic relationship than that. There is a great deal of trust involved. Clients trust me to care for them and respect them, as well as maintain their boundaries, both physical and emotional. It can be a delicate balance sometimes. We are two individuals. We might be as different as could be, and yet we agree to spend an hour or so together in a situation that makes both of us somewhat vulnerable.

In massage school, I took ethics classes in which I was instructed not to talk about myself to my clients. I’m to let the client guide any conversation that may or may not occur. And I learned to set my own boundaries regarding what and how much I share with my clients, if anything.

So when the questions begin — like, “How long have you been doing this?” “Are you from here?” “Do you have any kids?” — my answers are short and polite, and I quickly turn the conversation back to the client or to the massage. “I wonder if the pain you’re experiencing in your arm is due to nerve entrapment?”

But when they ask if I am married, everything changes.

Suddenly I have to decide. Do I tell the truth and risk upsetting my client if they are conservative and anti-gay? I’m compassionate enough to imagine that a homophobic person would feel very uncomfortable lying naked in a dark room and being touched by a lesbian. Not to mention the discomfort I would feel. Do I lie? Which way shall I lie? Tell them I have a husband? Or tell them no, I’m not married? Or do I say something neutral like, “I prefer not to discuss my personal relationships?” — in which case I’ve probably raised their suspicions and so I might as well have told the truth.

I hardly think a straight massage therapist would be faced with the same conundrum.

Today it was a perfectly sweet Midwestern woman who asked me if I was married. She was retired, travelling with her husband on a two-month adventure in their motor home.

I lied to her — and then my heart broke and all I could think of was my beautiful wife, whom I love and love and love.

Maybe I would have been pleasantly surprised. Maybe if I had spoken the truth my client would have said, “Oh wonderful! Tell me about your wife.” I won’t ever know. Is it even my place to test that boundary during a massage?

It’s Valentine’s Day. Carla and I are celebrating. We love each other to the ends of the earth and back again. We will keep loving each other every minute of every day until our days are done.  And someday, during our lifetimes, I hope I will be able to tell each and every person I meet how proud I am of my beautiful wife and expect nothing more than a smile in return.

I’ll just keep loving her until we get there.

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A Love Note for Valentine’s Day

I’ve mentioned before that when I quit my job last July, Karen and I vowed that we would not let our reduced income stop us from traveling. So we keep an eye out for great airfares and when we see one of interest, we jump on it. This weekend we hit Denver for $39 each way and got a room at a pretty fun hotel (The Curtis). We figured it was an early Valentine’s Day for us since in Karen’s line of work (she’s massage therapist at a nice spa), she’ll come home on the 14th too exhausted to do much of anything.

A couple of days before this Denver trip, I took on a project that required a fairly bleak perspective: a “beautiful but melancholy song, female vocalist, about lost love, feeling lost, etc.” It was due Friday morning, but we were flying out Thursday morning. I sure didn’t want to be the jerk spouse who works the whole time we’re away together. So Tuesday I hammered out lyrics and recorded the vocals, then Wednesday between freelancing and teaching I handled the acoustic guitar parts — the things I couldn’t do on a plane or in a hotel room.

At some point that evening I asked Karen to listen to it. She’s always honest with me about what works and what doesn’t. As she listened, her expression became concerned and eventually almost tearful. She finally took off the headphones and said, “Is this about me?”

I said, “My gosh, no! It has nothing to do with you; it’s just what I had to write for this project!”

See, every relationship song I’ve written since being with Karen has been about her, except this one. And they’ve all been deliriously happy, except this one. How she could think for a moment — when she’s the source of everything beautiful…

Mixing in the Hotel at Night

Mixing in the Hotel at Night. Yes, that's a martini glass.

We left the next morning for Denver. I finished mixing the song in the hotel room Thursday night while she slept. And then I crawled into bed and held her and thought about how lucky I am. Pretty incredibly lucky.

Listen to “All Right”

More from our Denver trip:


Little Raft of Happiness

This morning we made pancakes. It wasn’t really morning, it was one of those days where the morning stretches into the afternoon. We slept in, cuddling and having long meaningful conversations with the cats while they purred. Then we sipped espresso and listened to the rain.

On our long morning run we came up with song lyrics to a uke tune that Carla wrote and I stopped to take pictures of leaves and birds.

Then we had pancakes. Buttermilk pancakes with real butter and lots of maple syrup.

And after breakfast we all gravitated toward the sofa and gradually sank down for a nap. Carla and I and both of the cats – our funny little family.

This is what it’s all about. Floating on our very own little raft of happiness. In a sea of pancake fixins that need to be cleaned up. The bed unmade upstairs, wet laundry in the washer, just life, everywhere around us, our life. This is what I’m thankful for every day.

This has been a good morning.