Conversations on the massage table

I know two women who know how to get into my sinew. One is in the city. She’s a myotherapist, and her preference is to stick pins into me, but she’ll occasionally leave perfect circular bruises on my back. It’s not as horrid as it sounds. In fact, it’s quite satisfying when one’s knots give in. And boy do I need it, with all that desk sitting and Zumba.

The myotherapist and I usually chat about where to eat in the city and about her training – for as long as I’ve know her (about two years), she’s been gearing up for a great ocean swim competition. I’ll always ask her about her latest beau, too, both of us giggling at the creature from mars.

“You have a new guy each time I see you,” I say during my last treatment with her.

“Yeah, that’s bad, isn’t it? I just want one lovely guy who will love me forever.”

I hear the longing in her voice.

The myotherapist is a handful of years younger than me, and is over using online dating apps. “Most guys on those apps only want one thing and they’re not shy about saying it.”

Being married for 13 years, and having never seen Tinder or Bumble, I can’t relate, but I can sympathise. So I do.

The other woman lives close by, walking distance. She’s a remedial masseuse, so no pins or perfectly shaped bruises. She’s firm, yet not so firm that my muscles clench. My latest treatment is with her. It’s only my third visit.

“What nationality are you?”

“Fijian Indian,” I reply. “You?”

“You’ll never guess.”

“A mix?”

“Yes.”

“Italian and Greek?”

“Nope. I’m Austrian and Sri Lankan. I was adopted.”

Whoa! She proves herself right about my guessing abilities. Her accent and her name tricking me.

She tells me more. What her name at birth was, and whether she’s met her birth mother. About how she was brought up in a different culture to that of her heritage. That she’s the only child because her adoptive parents couldn’t have kids.

The remedial masseuse looks about my age, maybe older.

Feeling safe within our cocoon of confidence, I ask, “Do you have any kids?”

“No. I have never wanted any. I don’t know whether it’s because of my history, but I’ve never felt clucky.”

I don’t have any kids either,” I blurt. “Not necessarily by choice. But I didn’t give IVF a go either. I guess if I really wanted kids, I’d have tried that…”

We talk about family pressures. About societal judgment. About our experiences of being a childless woman.

“It’s the judging that pisses me off,” she says indignantly. “It’s as if you’re not a woman. We are more than giving birth to children.”

Walking in the same shoes, I can only agree.

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