I paid a woman to beat the shit out of me today.
I'm exaggerating. Sort of.
I went to my local body rub joint. It's less than a dollar a minute, and through necessity, they've added signs discouraging removal of underwear and solicitation of prostitution. I feel sorry for the very sweet ladies who run the place. But in defense of the indefensible, the place is open really late and looks sketchy as hell.
Over the weekend, I signed up for a special yoga class. In addition to the usual restorative practice, there would be reiki, thai massage, and acupressure. Fantastic, I thought. A positive way to end my borderline unsuccessful month of body image improvement.
The class was full, so I waited for my transformative massage experience (overly high expectations? That's my middle name). Patiently. As the class progressed, I realized that all of the touch I received was no heavier than what's done in reiki, which is very light and gentle.
I didn't want light and gentle. I wanted to be stretched out and reassembled. I wanted to buzz with bloodflow to long ignored muscles.
And then I realized: they were afraid to touch me. Afraid to hurt me, because I was fragile.
I was thinking about this as the masseuse climbed on the table and dug into my back with her elbow.
Fragility only exists as relative to other things. Nothing is fragile in an airless room. It's the introduction of other bodies, other forces.
When she plows over my left thigh with her forearm, I tense, bite my lip, breathe deep. I am about to tell her to stop when a voice in my head shouts, "You can take it!" When she goes over my leg with a soft touch later, I can feel where all the bruises will be.
If I wore everything on the outside, I would be all sick green and yellow, with mottles of purple. But not fragile, not today.
I can hold up to touch. I've held up to worse, crumpling mainly from cuts and the dark places of my mind.
The forces that can make something fragile can be passive, like the air. Orchids are hardy as fuck in the rainforest, but in my dry air they die slow, moody deaths.
The forces can be light. Or dark.
I have never been the tough one. I'm the one who plays it close to the chest, but that's not the same.
But on the table, I try on tough, and see why people think it's a synonym for strong. They think that, but it's not true.