Years ago I was in love with a man who didn’t think too much of faithfulness. Aware I needed to do something to retrieve a sense of feeling good about myself, by myself, I booked myself a private session with a striptease artist.
“What are you doing at the moment?” Jo had asked me, as I sat hunched in a chair in the studio she rented, changing into my just bought lingerie.
“I’m at law school,” I’d replied.
“I can tell,” she said, “it’s the way you move your body.”
But it wasn’t to be my only session, because a few years ago, when three months pregnant with my second child, I booked another session.
And on a morning when Tom had taken my daughter to nursery, I sat on the floor and dialled the number of the woman from whom I learnt that sexiness isn’t how about how perfect you look, but how sexy you feel.
When she answered, I told her that I had had a session with her about ten years previous.
“No, it’s okay, I don’t expect you to remember me. But I remember you.” I explained. “I just wanted to speak because I think, well, I just wanted to touch base because some things have happened over the years, and whilst I loved the session with you, I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to do a striptease like that again.”
“Laura, we can do whatever you want. My job is to help women feel relaxed, and at ease in themselves.” Jo said, her voice so familiar. “You don’t need to do a striptease, you can just come here, we can chat, we could even just focus on how you feel, and move in your body.” Jo’s voice; a feline purr relaxes me, and I remember her closing words to me at the end of our first session together. I’d just finished my routine that she’d spent the afternoon teaching me and flush with the pure exuberance of being at ease with, and enjoying my body, I turned to her and said how excited I was to share it with my boyfriend.
“No Laura,” Jo’s strong voice pulled my gaze towards her face. “What I taught you today was for you. If your boyfriend is lucky enough to see it, so be it. But this was for you.” There was a soft potency about her manner, as she invited me into a world I could sense but my just twenty something self was still struggling to inhabit: a state known not so much as self- respect, but self-appreciation. The kind of thing that we can learn from life, but god it takes time. And are seriously helped in our efforts, by hanging out with those whose own life path has taught this to them, no questions left.
And yet this something is something I’ve become adrift from again. Hence this call with a woman who I’m hoping is going to help me retrieve it, once again. “What do you suggest?” I ask Jo, sitting on the playroom floor at our rented home here in Sussex.
“I suggest,” she replies gently, “that you stop trying to control yourself, stop thinking about it too much. Don’t bring your greys,” she jokes. “Look I don’t know what’s happened in your life recently, but it sounds like you’ve lost your confidence.” I nod vigorously.
We chat some more and then I say, “There’s one more thing I forgot to say, I’m actually three months pregnant with my second child.” “Oh, how lovely!” She says.
“Thank you!” I reply. And then I make a weak joke about needing to find a bra and suspenders big enough to fit the pregnancy bloom.
“Laura, I’ve worked with women of all sizes and body shapes. I’ve worked with women who have no breasts, or have had operations. This is about empowering women.”
“I know, I felt that in the last session.” A pause. “Life’s so multi- dimensional isn’t it?” I say. “Because I’m guessing you started striptease because of a genuine interest in it, and then here you are empowering women, by helping women learn to accept themselves.”
“Look I don’t know if we get another life, but I do know we need to live this one. To do what you want to do,” Jo says and then goes onto say something wonderfully life affirming, that I can’t remember the specifics of, but the essence was: trust yourself...I want to say something about her voice: it’s so soft, womanly, sensual and lovely, but of course I don’t. She might think I fancy her, is my thought. Missing the point that even if she did, Jo’s the kind of woman who wouldn’t give a damn. Some people have seen many things, and some people, have become too sheltered for their own damn good.
There’s a second part to this, and will post tomorrow…xx