So, this last Saturday was Spa Day for me. This is something I decided on about a month ago and had scheduled three weeks ago. I need a little time to myself as well is a bit of a Christmas present, so I thought why not do something I’ve never done before? And that’s something was a day at the spa.
The place I visited is Polished Salon, Spa & Wellness, over on the East Shore of the Susquehanna River in Lemoyne. I’d gone there but a month ago to get a Mani/Pedi and sort of slowly fell in love with the locale, the setup, and the attentiveness. I’ve always wanted to try a day spa, but never did because, well, I do felt strange going in before my transition. I now, however, I’m fully relaxed with who I am as a woman, and one of the things a woman should have at lease once in her life is a few hours of pampering.
Ergo, it was time to hit the spot.
The package I’d pick was pretty much top-of-the-line. There was another one I could’ve went with where I would’ve gotten a mud wrap and I may save that one for my birthday. As it was, with this package I got a body lotion rubdown on my arms, legs, and back, then a one hour full body massage, then a full facial, then lunch, then a Mani/Pedi. Altogether I was told it would take five and a half to six hours to complete, which was fine by me: it was like I had anything else planned Saturday. That said, I scheduled for as early as possible–nine in the morning–and showed up at eight forty-five so I could fill out paperwork.
Little did I know I was about to fall down the rabbit hole.
First, let me describe how this place is laid out. When you come in there’s a check-in desk. To the right of the check-in desk is the area where the hair salon is located in the nails are done. This area is sort of open because all of these things are kind of sociable: when you do your hair doing her nails you want to talk and carry on a little. I like getting a Mani/Pedi because of the social interaction, and for the longest time it was the only social interaction I had with people.
To the left of the check-in desk there is a door, and the store leads back to the area where you get your brows plucked, your facials applied, and your massages given. Everything back here is in small, individual rooms, because each of these things is really something you want to do by yourself in relative peace and quiet while someone works on. Also, everything back here is kept in subdued lighting to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. As I told Sharon, the woman who did my facial, being back in this area is sort of like being a completely different world.
But before you get to any of that other stuff, you are led to… The Quiet Room.
Four plush chairs and two chaise lounge chair. Where you see the paperwork sitting is where I sat, where I reclined and watched the fire place and listen to the soft music constantly being played while I decided what I needed from a facial, what I expected from a massage, and what I wanted for lunch.
By the way, that’s a pitcher of lemon and cucumber water in the middle of the picture and let me tell you, that shit rocked. But I came back here for lunch I drink like five glasses of that stuff because–well, I’ll get to that.
After filling out all the paperwork I was led to a small changing room with four lockers. I was told to undress and for all my stuff in the lockers and I could put on the robe and a pair of sandals so I’d have something to wear while back in this area. The only item of my street clothes that I left on were my panties, because I had a massage coming and who’s going to wear a bra for that?
Once changed it was time to go back to The Quiet Room and wait for the first item on the list, which was the body robe and massage. I was no sooner getting comfortable when Christine, the massage therapist, showed up to lead me back to our room.
At this point my heart was beating pretty fast and it must’ve been obvious that I was anxious, because Christine picked up on that. She asked me if this was the first time I’d ever had a massage and once I told her was, she told me sweetly to just relax and enjoy the experience. She stepped out for a moment so I could get out of my robe and sandals and get under the towel lying on the massage table.
The body lotion was applied mainly to the extremities: both arms and both legs. There was a little bit of salt mixed in with the lotion to act as a exfoliant and I really felt great having that rubbed into your skin as you lay on your back with your eyes half closed in a semi-darkened room with soft music playing and candles burning. Just the sort of thing you needed to get you in the mood for what was coming next: the massage.
Now, I’ve been given massages by people. I’ve even given a massage or two in my time. But I have never had a professional massage, and let me tell you getting massage from your friend and then getting massage from someone who knows what they’re doing is sort of like comparing driving down the Pennsylvania Turnpike at 70 miles an hour/112 km an hour to hopping in a Ferrari 488 GTE competition car and driving at full speed around the Le Mans circuit for twelve hours. In short, there is no comparison.
I lay on my back and got my arms and legs worked out. I could feel myself drifting off on a couple of occasions because it was so relaxing, and I was so zoned at one point that when Christine was preparing for me to roll over on my stomach I hadn’t even realized the towel had slipped down my torso and my breasts were exposed. She fixed it right up because before I rolled over on my stomach she threw a sheet over me and followed it up with a fleece throw blanket. Then she got the little attachment in place for me to stick my face through. So while she held on to one side of the sheet/blanket combo, I rolled over and got my face in the whole, repairing for the back rub.
One thing I should point out is whenever Christine would massage my extremities she would try to keep as much of the rest of my body covered while she worked on just that part of my body. So while she was working on my left leg, that was the only part of my body exposed: the rest stayed swaddled, nice and warm, under the fleece blanket. Needless to say all the while this was happening–which included having hot towels wrapped around my feet and applied over lotion on my back–I was zoning out hard. I didn’t fall asleep, but there were definite moments when I felt almost as if I was hallucinating, like I was seeing and sensing things that were almost dreamlike even though I was aware I was lying on a table getting a rubdown.
It was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had and I couldn’t believe it was over when Christine told me it was time for me to get up and get dressed. Of course she said for me to take my time getting off the table, getting dressed, and returning to The Quiet Room, and there’s a good reason for that: I was wrung out. The moment I raised my head I started feeling lightheaded; the moment I tried rolling on my side and flipping off the cover I felt as if my body wouldn’t respond. Really, at that point I probably could’ve laid back and taken a nap for an hour, I was that relaxed. It was actually a chore to get up on my feet, get dressed, and headed down to wait for the next appointment. Christine was waiting for me and I told her I felt thirsty: she told me that wasn’t an unusual feeling and I should drink as much fluid as I like. So I had my first two glasses of lemon and cucumber water and sat waiting for my facial.
I didn’t have to wait long. Sharon showed up and took me to the room where my facial would be performed. I lay back on the table and she got a bright light in my face that she can examine everything. Now, when I filled out the facial for and was asked to describe my skin, I said it was “rough” and “dry”. After couple minutes of examining Sharon told me that my skin was wonderful and in excellent shape. She asked me if I spent a lot of time outside in the sun and I told her no, I was a computer programmer and writer, so most of my time was spent indoors, and that even as a child I preferred sitting in my room reading then going outside to play. She said a lack of sunlight had actually helped my skin considerably and also, considering I had a slight amount of Cherokee Indian heritage–I’m 1/32 because of a great-great-grandmother–that meant my body probably had slightly more melange than other Caucasians.
She was extremely surprised, however, by how smooth my skin was, so I had to reveal my dirty little secret: being transgender I’m on hormone replacement therapy and that estrogen is putting me through a second puberty which leads to smooth skin. That not only made complete sense to her, but she told me that she had done laser facial hair removal treatment on several transwomen in the area. So we not only talk a little about that, but we also discussed things about why my skin was good due to the fact that I likely had a weird and unusual puberty as a child.
Either way, I got steam blown on to my chest to help open the pores after which I had a mask applied all over my face and to the upper triangle of my chest from my neck down to a point between my breast. This last kinda confused me and then I realized that as women we expose more of our upper chest due to some of the outfits we wear, and you want to keep that area looking just as nice as your face. See the things you learn?
After the facial it was time for lunch, so it’s back to The Quiet Room for more lemon and cucumber water–
–and my lunch, a tuna fish sandwich and a salad with feta cheese. But I didn’t get just a sandwich: it was more like a sub and there was a whole lot of salad.
With all these things behind me it was time to get dressed and head out to get my nails done. First up was the pedicure in this was being done by Donna, whom I not only remembered from my first visit but with whom we had discussed our love of old movies. So while she did my pedi we once again talked old movies while I kicked back and relaxed–
The last person to work on me was Stevie, who did my manicure. The first thing she did was strip off all my polish and it was during this time that she told me she was eager to work on my nails–had been, actually, since I came in the first time. See, it the last place I went to for my nails, the woman there put an acrylic overlay on all my nails to strengthen them. Unfortunately, she put on so much that I actually looked like I had bubbles on my nails and this was something that Stevie couldn’t stand.
So she got the stripping off the old polish, then sanding down as much of the old acrylic overlay she could. The last thing she did was repair my left thumbnail, which it ripped off while I was at work Thursday afternoon. After all this was done it was time to get the polish applied. I was actually using two different gel polishes. The first to go on was Girls Love Pearls, which was used as a base. Over that was the clearer, more sparkly Champagne For Breakfast. The end result gave my nails, both on my hands and feet, a nice luster with a glitter finish.
With everything done I settled up the bill and tipped everyone who work on me twenty-five dollars. I said, this was my Christmas present, so I didn’t mind spending the money. It’s also one of the reasons you only want to do something like this once every six months or so, because it is a luxury and should be treated as such. Though I’m already missing the sensation I had after that massage…
I was there for exactly six hours and got everything as advertised, and it all exceeded my expectations. When I got home I was actually afraid to sit down, and the moment I did I started feeling drowsy: the aftermath of the massage. I went out to get something to eat and when I came back I still felt that relaxed feeling for the rest of the night–in fact, the moment I started watching television I found myself dozing off, and when I finally did get to bed I fell asleep right away.
So take my advice: if you ever start feeling stressed out and you have a few hundred dollars burning a hole in your purse, find a nice day spa that has a good reputation and excellent reviews and go get yourself pampered. It might be something you only do once in your life, but just like that trip to Europe that all of us want to take, this is something that you should do. As I was told so many of my women friends over the last couple of years, we need Me Time and this is a great way to get that time.
‘Cause really, it is little things like this that help get your mind back in a good space.