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Saturday 9 February 2002.

cool but sunny

new year's eve on the 4 train

I went to my first therapist meeting on Thursday. Therapist meeting? Appointment, I guess. It wasn't even with a doctor, but with a soft-spoken Asian man named James who was probably all of 4 years older than me. He herded me into a tiny, claustrophobic room furnished with a bland desk, two bland chairs and an equally bland lamp. On the table with the lamp was a box of those cheap, ecru-colored school-issue kleenex and a dime. I made note of those things, and for some reason kept glancing at the dime throughout the hour.

I was hyper aware of everything I was doing as I talked to him. Crossing and uncrossing my legs, balling up my windbreaker in my lap and playing with the zipper, constantly brushing away the little strands of hair that were too short to go behind my ears, trying to quell the trembling in my hands (which, I told myself, was a side effect of the Zoloft, not because I was nervous).

And so I sat opposite him, and expounded on my stupid little life and stupid feelings and stupid depression. I should not be here. I am better than this. The tear ducts threatened constantly, and finally spilled. All the shame and vulnerability finally ripped open, in front of this stranger, this person I didn't even know, who didn't care about me (except in a strictly professional "I don't want you to kill yourself" sense).

He was nice and listened to everything I said and asked good questions and jotted notes on his pad. How wish I could've seen them. I made an appointment to see a pyschiatrist on the 20th.

Mom and I walked out of Sullivan and to the parking lot. No, I did not feel better. Not at all. I felt exposed. At Wendy's I sat listlessly and looked from my fries to the window to my mother's concerned face and back again. I felt only worse. Cottonhead, I had said. I feel all blocked up. What dignity I had, left alone in my misery, was now gone. I was just like everyone else.

...

I have an internship this semester. It's at a tile showroom in Manayunk, down by the river, below Chestnut Hill. I like the environment and it looks like a golden opportunity to get some education in the business of art, which is an area where Tyler is sorely lacking. Most of the tiles there are made by individual artists, and some of them are truly beautiful, and have given me many ideas for my own work.

Manayunk is beautiful. It's like South Street, just classier and with no condom stores. It has an enormous hill that (as numerous signs warn) has a 12% grade. I parked on the hill today and was lucky that Boris could even get out of the parking space.

A block from where I work is the train, which is elevated. The road beneath it is cobblestone and sometimes I just stand there and admire the dental green I beams and sharpness of the electrical wires against the clear sky. I stand under it and watch how the light falls through the steel and onto the ground. I listen to the low rumble of the train and the shrill crackle of electricity.

Sorrentino's is a little deli under the El, on Levering and Cresson. Angie suggested I go there because it was cheap, unlike most of the eateries in the area. The concrete steps are worn. There is a wooden framed screen door that you open and then you gently turn sideways to squeeze through the smaller interior door. It's made of dark wood with a brass handle and dozens of little stickers are clinging to its window, blue and worn away by the sun and the rain.

Inside is just as cramped. It doubles as a deli and convienence store in miniature. Bottles of shampoo and boxes of dryer sheets and cereal are carefully arranged on the wooden shelves. The cheeseburger and fries I ordered were wrapped in foil and stuffed in a paper bag.

I step out onto the street, brown paper bag in hand. The screen door has no spring, and I forgot that today. It slammed shut behind me. The train thunders above me. I cross the cobblestones and stare into the filmy window of an antique furniture store. No wind, but sun.

My life could be a beautiful movie, I think.