Move over, Brené Brown, Eckhart Tolle, and Iyanla Vanzant – there’s a new LYBL guru for Oprah to start clamoring about. Her name is Adele Vydra, and she is a massage master. (Not to be confused with a Pokémon master, though the two do require similar amounts of wrist action.)
She is still such a little-known secret that I essentially have my pick of times when I call for a same-day appointment, though this could be, as she explains in her sweet Eastern European accent, that she is seeing fewer people lately because she is in the process of moving. Our phone connection is a bit rough, so we hang up and she texts me directions to her suite, asking for me to respond with my name and confirmation of our appointment. With no little effort, I resist the urge to type “Hello, it’s me,” and agree to meet her at 5:45.
When I arrive at the address, I realize it is not an office block but a residential building, which inspires a mild sense of trepidation. I know Phoebe did massages out of her apartment in Friends, but surely it’s a little sketchy in real life? I can see Adele in the lobby, though, and she looks so sweet, so like an Anouk Aimée-inspired Matryoshka, that I go in. She immediately greets me with a big hug, like I’m the prodigal daughter (albeit one whose spendthrift ways have left her with a degree of shoulder pain).
Her apartment is classy and calm, a well-decorated two-bedroom in the Gold Coast. But instead of a massage table set up in the living room, the entire second bedroom has been converted into a tranquil oasis. (Yes, those words are used in connection with spas all the time, but really, what’s more appropriate?) The lighting and décor are exactly what one would expect, down to the record playing – which, I can see from the cover on the table, is entitled “Stallion of a Dream” and features a bare-chested man riding a magnificent white horse in a very intent manner across a stretch of beach. I’m sold already.
After offering me a bottle of water, fruit or an entire bar of chocolate – “it is my hospitality,” she explains; “this is a retreat” – she invites me to sit down on the couch to “go over everything.” (Really, I can’t even by this point.) She asks me about my life and where I’m looking to focus, then promises we will “go on a journey together.” (She also says a bunch of other vaguely ethereal things that would make a less amenable person suspicious, but she’s already told me that the table has an electric blanket on it, so I’ve been mentally lauding her genius for a few minutes by now.)
When it is time to actually get on the table, both her expertise and talent are immediately evident. She uses quick, sure strokes and just the right amount of pressure, which she adjusts with unerring intuition as she moves to different parts of the body. (She uses an oddly wonderful squeeze-and-twist movement on the fingers and toes.) She seems to spend an endless amount of time on my shoulders and back – and I use that adjective with delight – finishing with a vigorous hot towel rub and a replacing of the heavy, warm blanket. My internal clock is proven correct when it is time to flip over, as she quietly asks me if it is okay that she goes fifteen minutes past the hour: “No extra charge; I just take extra time because you have so much stress in your back.” Is it okay? Mother, may I?
She completes the full-body part by a sort of light rubbing reminiscent of reiki (except for the whole contact part, obviously, but her movements feel mystical), and then finishes by washing her hands and then dry-massaging my face and scalp. This seems a lovely consideration, as the scalp is my favorite part, but usually has the unfortunate side effect of making it appear as though you haven’t showered in days. She finishes softly, gently, and quietly urges me to “take your time – please lie for a few minutes” (which leads me to wonder just how awkward it would be if I asked her to sleep there for the night).
As I pay, I tell her it is the best massage I’ve ever had, and she blushes, saying, “Oh, you make my day!” without the slightest bit of disingenuousness. I ask her how she became a therapist, and she tells me it is a spiritual calling, that she gets just as much out of it as the client – something I have never heard a masseuse say before. Seeing me out the door, she urges me to “stay beautiful”** and to come back. I assure her I most certainly will.
In fact, I’ll probably call a thousand times.
For more information and to make appointments: www.adelemassage.com.
**And by “stay beautiful,” I know she meant “on the inside” a) because that’s the kind of person she clearly is and b) when I got home, my sister was said, “Your face looks weird. You look like you’ve been sleeping.” Thank you Hannah.