It was homemade oil. Err — home-mixed. I’d researched online my options and bought the essential oils to mix myself. I used almond oil as a base, which made it somewhat more expensive than other options, but I’d read almond oil did wonders for the skin. So it was worth it.
We were still very much separated. This afternoon was one of the first private “dates” in our attempt at reconciliation after I had very nearly shattered our relationship beyond hope.
The scent? Lavender. A simple, airy fragrance condensed into an essential oil mixed in the bottle at just the right ratio. Lavender could soothe the senses and relax the body, I’d read. That was certainly more fitting for this than jasmine. Today’s date wasn’t about anything resembling seduction, so no sexually-charged aromatherapy. That would be a disastrous move. I just needed something to relax her.
I mixed some oil into hot water in this electric foot bathing contraption she had, reassuring myself that this would go okay, that I’d thought of everything. She was in the other room, the room that had until a few months before been our room, changing into some hideous capri-length sweatpants, a move I later learned was intended to turn me off. Not that it was necessary. I wasn’t thinking along those lines in the slightest. Seriously. Not today. This was supposed to be a sweet, semi-romantic, fully servile gesture as a birthday gift for her: a foot washing and rubbing. I counted myself extremely lucky to even have that.
You see, we were still very much separated. We’d worked out some kinks in our broken marriage, but we had a long, long way to go. This afternoon was one of the first private “dates” in our attempt at reconciliation after I had very nearly shattered our relationship beyond hope.
So it was back to dating basics. Love was on my mind. Intimacy, even. But certainly not sex. This was about pampering her. About cherishing and nourishing, like Paul instructed in Ephesians 5:29. Nothing more.
Admittedly, this feet-washing idea was a pretty smooth move to touch her heart, if I do say so myself. This was part of a big strategic effort to reach for health in our relationship, and it was a good call, I thought. But it was not an attempt to reach for more. I’d earned no such right from this woman. I’d forfeited even the right to think it.
Needless to say, I didn’t even notice the sweatpants when she came out and sat in front of me, much less the message she sent by wearing them. I was much too focused on getting everything right. The water temperature was good, not too hot or too cold. The oil smelled right, clearly present without being overbearing. And I was reasonably certain I knew what to do with the brush, the stone, and the other paraphernalia from the foot spa kit I had beside me. I had a lot on my mind, and the sweaty nerves of don’t-screw-this-up coupled with the cold anxiety of only-one-shot didn’t help. She could have come out in a chicken suit, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed. My eyes, my mind, and my intentions were on her feet.
I had her start out with a soak. The steaming water filled the air with the scent of lavender, aided by the foot bath’s vibration feature agitating the water. Soon, her feet were feeling more numbed than soothed, so I turned that feature off, regretting it quickly. Not a good start. But there’s nothing to do but to get this thing started. So I took out one of her feet.
I had a lot on my mind, and the sweaty nerves of don’t-screw-this-up coupled with the cold anxiety of only-one-shot didn’t help.
For the next several minutes, I fussed over each of her feet in turn with some combination of soapy water, damp towels, pumice stones, and brushes. In retrospect, I’m not really sure I know what all I did. I’m not sure I knew what all I was doing then, either. I took my cues from a formidable preparatory Google session and from paying close attention to her responses and feedback. Shamefully, she had to explain how certain things worked. More failsauce.
I remember trying so hard not to tickle her — her feet included the most ticklish spots on her body — so I didn’t interrupt whatever momentum of relaxation I was managing to build. And I failed, miserably and repeatedly, her foot jerking out of my hands in reflex each time, but each time this patient, reassuring woman returned herself to my sub-novice ministrations.
After soaking, washing, scrubbing, grinding, and whatever else went on, I moved into more familiar territory: the foot rub. Now, I’m no expert on the subject, though I had supplemented my prior knowledge with some more Googling. However, I’d given her a foot rub enough times in the past to have some sense of what I was doing, some instinct, some muscle memory.
My hands began to work through some familiar motions on her heels almost of their own volition, and some small measure of the stress that had knotted up in my back released, happy to at least be done with the confusion and embarrassment of the spa kit.
Plus, I had survived this long without her using her freshly (if incompetently) pampered feet to kick me out.
Perhaps this wouldn’t end in disaster after all.
Originally posted 2015-06-05 08:00:22.