For the last 20 weeks of the year, I will be taking a portrait of a person I know, meet or come into contact with. One portrait each week, one story each week.
The first time I saw Tina I only saw her feet and the little oriental sandals that framed them. I was face down on a massage table, bare backed and vulnerable (and a little cold to be honest).
She said nothing to me, and I said nothing to her. I lay there meditating away from my thoughts, away from the worries that engulfed my mind. For the next 15 minutes, I let Tina use her hands to massage away the tension and the stress from my body leaving me feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and refreshed.
I got lost in my own thoughts and I felt like I was dreaming but just like a dream it was over too soon. Tina patted me on the back, said nothing and walked out of the room leaving me confused as to whether the last 15minutes actually occurred or whether it was just a figment of my imagination.
I got dressed and walked out from behind the curtain only to see a beautiful, young Thai girl standing there waiting for me, head down, arms stretched out holding a cup of tea that she made specifically for me.
She asked me if I felt better, I said 'yes' and she said 'good'.
We continued to talk about her profession as a masseuse and she made me realise how important her job is. She meets people at their most vunerable, people looking for an escape; an escape from pain, from worry or just from that particular day. She makes them feel better, even if it's only temporarily.
For such a young girl she has already experienced so much. Migrating to Australia, trying to find work and moving around till she finally found her footing. She made me appreciate the life that I have and the opportunities that I have been given without having to lift a finger. We live in a very fortunate society and too often I think we forget that.
I wished I could have stayed and talked with Tina more. Perhaps this will be a good excuse to go back and get another massage. I surely couldn't say no to that.
Five weeks into this project and I have already met some incredibly interesting people. 15 more weeks to go, 15 more people to meet.
What an adventure this will be!