There was only the shimmer of life. A hologram of what was not. There is the part that is not the hologram. The part that is breath. And scent. The part that is hair and skin and blood.
I bump into a friend and we talk about therapists. He tells me a funny/sad story about his old one and I tell him about how I have decided to dump mine because the last time I saw her she tried to make me feel bad because she forgot it was our appointment time and left me waiting.
Our appointment was at 12. “It’s only 12:07,” she said. I was the one who emailed her to remind her after waiting outside. She has no waiting room. One must wait on the stoop until the last patient changes the sign over to open. No one changed the sign because there was no last patient. She had left it occupied herself.
She makes $200 an hour and I make considerably less than that an hour and all of my time is money ticking away.
I am irked by her but I stay in the appointment anyway because she tells me she will charge me for it regardless.
I sit down and cross my arms across my chest like a teenager. I do not want to give her a free hour that she gets paid for.
I immediately weep.
A few hours earlier I had left my child at school after having him for five days and I am an open wound. I have thrown myself onto the land mine.
We talk. I allow myself to open up because fuck it. She will hear me. She is being paid. She is taking this time from my paycheck.
My child is away from me.
Her cat begins to scratch frantically at the door. Are you allergic? Can I let her in? she asks.
She is home alone. Her partner or husband or whatever is not there and the cat is needy.
I say, of course.
The glass door handle breaks off in her hand. The door cannot be opened. She has a Victorian house. It’s for sale.
The cat mews and she frets over her cat during our session. She is worried. I can tell. This cat needs her.
I think of my son. I think of how she left me waiting on her stoop.
I think about how we talked about me feeling inconsequential last session.
I praise the broken door handle. I praise it. I know that all she can focus on is her cat. I talk on and on.
Last week, I felt like you didn’t even really need to see me again, she said. You’re so together.
You talk to me like you know me better than I know myself but no one knows anyone as well as I know you, I want to say to her.
She tells me I courageous. She tells me how many women sit on the other side of where I sit and just keep sitting there because they are scared.
You are courageous, she says.
But I don’t need her to tell me that. I leave without making another appointment.
There is the part that is not the hologram and that part is love. It is love. The love of my child, which is as rich and miraculous as dark soil in spring. Then there is the love of myself which is a cat behind an unopened door with a broken handle.
My final communications with her will about her payment. This is, after all, a business and she is nothing if not mercenary.
It must be expensive to live in that state of constant upkeep. The large Victorian house. The cat on the other side of the door. The quiet rooms. The time ticking away behind the occupied sign.
It must feel like something heavy and smothering. A pillow over the face. A moon clouded over. It must feel.