Superlatives have not been invented for the words to capture the weaves and the intricacies of my emotions today.
What is insanely pulsating is the possibility of compacting a lifetime of luxurious pampering into three hours. All these are handed to me on a silver platter, and I did not pay a penny, shinny or rusted. All these are handed to me by a boss, my boss. All these are happening in what is the school cafeteria, a cafeteria now transformed into another world with varying sizes and shapes of white and blue snowflakes and lights from the students’ “Snowflake Ball,” a father-daughter soiree of a few yester-days (hyphen inserted on purpose).
I called today’s event “Stations of Bliss,” for lack of better words. Imagine, if you will, a big room set in variations of levels of pampering for all the senses of my body. I traveled to (what was for me) the first station to have my vital statistics deciphered and remedies given to take care of what might ail me in the future, but I am in perfect health, as my systolic pressure and diastolic pressure (110 over 75) and temperature of 98.6oF showed. I packed free medicines for my inside and other remedies for my skin: hands, feet, and body.
In the second station, one of the massage therapists located all the problems of my life where they hid on my back, neck, and shoulders. And with a resolution that defied any strength I could have mustered, dragged them out in her own unique blending of Swedish and deep tissue massages. She pressed, tugged, traced, and followed the trail of stress until the boatload of hassles fled unceremoniously out of every nerve and muscle of my body. Needless to say, languid and relief were an understatement for the satisfied feelings that flooded my body.
The third station boasted of the hairdresser, a very exceptionally talented woman who came with very few items. By the time she finished each teacher’s hair, we all felt so elevated and so much more sophisticated than our usual sophisticated, urbane, and stylish selves. Even for those who didn’t have plans previously, they made or wanted to make plans afterwards, for such an amazing hair transformation and flair had to be shared with the outside world. We just could not go from the school building into our homes.
The movie station boasted, yes, a movie that I had meant to see, but I had dallied, and it left the theaters. Who was on the silver screen but none other than Smyrna, GA’s true daughter, Julia Roberts, who comes to my church with her mother whenever she leaves Hollywood for home (Smyrna)? And yes, I have seen her at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church at least two times. The movie that grabbed me was “Eat Pray Love,” but since we could not finish viewing it, the principal, my boss, asked me to take it home and finish watching it. Kindness is a wonderful woman named Nina.
Of course, on the way to the Movie Station, I made a quick stop over at the Popcorn Station. What is a movie without popcorn? In that station were ice, variations of soft drinks, and more ice. On an Indian summer day such as today, I was lifted by an inner bravery to fill a cup to its rim with ice and to crunch and savor the cold sensation of the arctic in my mouth.
The food station seemed sparse by all accounts, but with a room full of mostly women, and each on one type of diet or another, the food selection was just what we needed. A long stainless steel dish perched above two warming lights hiding something mysterious, but the dessert was so opulently and decadently displayed that we all rushed toward it forgetting our calorie-counting resolutions, forgeting what our mothers told us, and what we as mothers tell our children daily, “Do not eat your dessert before your meal.” Well, we did! We did!
Oh my taste buds! What just touched my tongue? Superlatives have not been invented yet for the sensation that confronted my palette! It was chocolate cheese cake, but it was not your typically firm cheese cake. The bold and brown circle reclined invitingly with white whipped cream cloud floating like cake icing, but looking at its softness assured us that it was not icing. Even the softness was visible in the arcs left by the decorating tips.
This was no ordinary cheesecake. This one’s smoothness, velvetiness, and softness grabbed the tongue and fork, and the fingers were forced to regretfully pull the fork out in slow motion because the chocolate clung lovingly to the fork, not clingingly hard, but clinging with controlled softness, not all-over-your-mouth messiness, but controlled mousse-and-soft-chocolate-on-the-fork-yet-in-your-mouth situation that caused the heart to quicken. If you have never tasted food that reached your soul and grabbed it with its mystery, you have no idea what I am talking about. However, if you have tasted food that made you sigh, food that forced you to eat it with extreme tenderness and regret to see its last morsel, you know exactly what I quite cannot seem to put into words.
So we ate our dessert before our meal, and the meal was another self-fulfilling journey of its own. It was sensitively hot without scalding the roof of the mouth. It was pasta like you have never tasted pasta. Shakespeare said, “If music be the food of love, play on. Give me excess of it.” This food was music, and everyone in that hall loved it as it played itself on our tongues again. I think everyone spent more time with the food than on or with anything else in that hall today. We did not know that there was vegetable in the pasta until the teeth bit down on the ever so soft corn, the corn playing hide and seek in the sauce.
Before we hit the road, we made one final stop at the Goody-bag Station where a red mystery bag awaited each of us. We grabbed a bag each, peeked in, and were extremely pleased with the numerous items within: chocolates, candies, teacher-supply items, and a gift card for Barnes and Noble. I feel a read coming on, and I know exactly for what I will redeem my card.
Oh, I tell you, it has been an incredible day, a day that I want to hold in my palm for a very long time, a day that I have never encountered from an employer ever, and that is what makes it so hard to believe, that an employer would stop time, pause time, and cause it to move in languid luxury for her hardworking employees, yet not make it feel or look like any work related function with announcements and interruptions. It was a day that no previous employers had ever given to me, not in 27 years of working myself to the bones and not receiving a tarnished penny in appreciation.
Superlatives have not been coined for the feelings that coursed through my heart, mouth, mind, and body today. They call me “Word Wizard,” as the plaque hanging in my classroom attests, but even this woman, who is extremely skilled in words, lacks the power and ability to work wonders with words today. Thankfully, I took a picture of the dessert before it vanished ‘fore the eyes could finish blinking.