Tuesday, May 30, 2017
My Own - Extra Room
My Own Extra Room By Brandy Larson I’d made the decision. My second career – body worker – or as some people say masseuse . . . “cowboy masseuse” as an early client said.For most of my adult life I'd done the housemate thing. There'd been several happy years of domestic bliss, living with honey buns and privacy. But due to economic necessity, "roomies" had generally been my fate. Let me count the ways – Stone Manor Co-op, a tiny green room on the fourth floor, view of Lake Mendota shared with college friend Winnie, 30 tenants and a big community dining room in the basement opening out onto the flagstone terrace, midnight nude swims off the pier. My first rental house was on East Gotham Street, another group-living arrangement. My room was illegal, in the unfinished basement. We post-teenagers with our dogs banded together to make the rent. After my six-week hitchhiking tour of more than 1,500 miles, with $100, backpack and dog, I snagged an east-side flat, cycling through 3 different landlords, two honey buns and a handful of roomies. One of the last housemates there was a working girl – not that kind – who, after the interview confessed, she was pregnant. After the baby was born, mother and child shortly got their own place. I helped mom move in January when it was -14 degrees.Next was a second-floor flat with my room in the top floor attic. Over the years, there was an assortment of housemates – guys, gals, students, one honey bun and a former philosophy major 3 credits short of graduation working on the loading docks at Webcrafters. I kicked out another guy due to his head-banger, over-the-top boom box.It was around this time I started having recurring dreams of an extra room. In the dreams,I’d discover a hidden door, sometimes discovering a whole wing next to my room. I’d just wander around, admiring all that space. In other dreams, I’d be negotiating to move into a place with an extra room or even two. Meanwhile, I did have a whole house near Vilas Park with a sweetheart. I helped him transform it. It had been a party house for him and his West High buddies. I spent my spare time – between two jobs – scrubbing down walls and painting. The things we do for love. Once the paint dried, things went south.Then I found a double-chambered room in the original farm house of a former vast acreage on Commercial Avenue. Dave, the leaseholder, was a communist, he said, and the son of a captain of industry. He had a color TV and cable in his bedroom. There was a small black and white TV in the living room. I said why not share the TV wealth? Nothing doing, he said.Some communist.One day, I told him I'd had a dream that I was moving. Dave said that’s right, take your dog – he never liked Raven – you’re out of here.A first-floor flat on Jenifer Street provided the next batch of housemates, mostly students.My favorite all-time housemate was Keiko, a Japanese woman working on a bachelor’s degree innursing. Always sweet, sunny, amazingly considerate, Asian serenity every day. If I’d been a guyI’d have asked her to marry me!I had a very stressful sub-teaching job when I decided to get a massage from the famous Cherie. A light bulb went off. Ten years previously, my mom taught me to give full-body Swedish massages after she took a six-week course at the tech school when she retired. On Cherie’s massage table, I just felt it in my bones – and muscles – this is for me!Soon after this, I had another extra-room dream. I opened what looked like a closet door. I stepped over the threshold. Velvet clothing in glowing gem tones was hanging from a tall door jamb. I moved through the entryway into a series of airy rooms. Shortly after this dream, I met Michelle, a certified masseuse, at a party. I asked if she would be my teacher. She said she’d be happy to instruct me which she did in six lessons for free. After the first lesson, she said I was a natural.A housemate had moved out on Jennifer Street that summer, and I borrowed Mom’s massage table. I self-apprenticed at half-price for a few months in my first extra room, then I found another flat on East Washington. The day I set up my massage studio there with help from Signe, the new housemate had a friend helping him move in. Thirty minutes after setting up my spiffy new studio, I offered a free massage to the moving helper. Here I was, doing massage on a handsome guy in my own dedicated extra room.