Into the Darkness Which Passes for Rooms (A Prose Chapbook in Progress)
My therapist and I no longer speak. It was an amicable break-up. Imagine a couple who divorces over champagne on a nice patio in spring, and imagine them laughing through it all in the way you laugh when everything feels right. I said, “I’m moving to Connecticut, and so I can no longer see you for obvious geographical reasons.” He said, “I am happy that you feel capable of moving. Remember when you couldn’t even drive a car down the street to get to my office?” This was a gross misrepresentation of the situation: his office was not down the street, but down an albeit brief stretch of highway. Also it was kind of a dick move, like saying to an amputated diabetic: “Hey, remember when you had a leg? Good times, though.” Still, I got his point, and it was a good point to make.
Imagine a couple divorces over champagne on a well-wrought patio – stone, furniture, spring – laughing through it all the way you laugh when things are going too well.
When I was seeing my therapist, I did not have a cat. In fact, the cat and the therapist never co-occurred. I stopped seeing my therapist in June of 2012. My cat was born in September of the same year, and I adopted him in December, also of the same year. Though on strictly technical terms, my cat and my therapist are currently co-occurring, in the sense that they are both alive. But the cat is in my apartment; he wakes me most mornings at four AM for food. My therapist might as well have died the minute I left his office. And when I did leave his office, it was like stepping out of some necessary Sodom, I kept looking back: I tried to turn into salt. And because I didn’t I assumed he was razed the way God razes what is wrong: his office hardened into scar, his body contained somewhere in the tissue. If I consider that he still exists – and, worse, is still treating patients – well, I can’t do that. My heart breaks. Like knowing your lover is making sex tapes with other men. Like sitting down and watching those sex tapes. She screams at the moment of climax: You’re doing so well these days. I’m so proud of you.
You are not supposed to love your therapist, though it happens. I remember that being a plot device in an episode of Frasier: one of Niles’s patients falls in love with him, they call it projection, hijinks ensue, a marriage is strengthened, someone probably says “soupçon” at some point because, be honest, is there ever an episode of Frasier where someone doesn’t say “soupçon”? But I loved my therapist, and it was different from romantic love, and it was also different from platonic love, and maybe this sort of love is supposed to happen: my head is a tiny apartment; inside we acted in tandem out of necessity: there was no space for independent motion, and when I tried I broke things like dishes and weird trinkets.
You are also not supposed to love your patients, and this probably happens a lot less than loving your therapist, but I can’t imagine it never happens: to avoid boring itself, the world makes sure to execute each possible configuration, usually more than once. So: small child gets cancer; therapist falls in love with patient. But I also can’t imagine my therapist was in love with me. He was a nice guy. Married if I remember correctly. But he knew what his job was.
I mentioned the cat because he speaks a language that I think is the language at the end of the world. Or, more realistically, at one edge of the world: the bare sharp glass of first-order desire: to sleep, to eat, to move, to know someone is there, to press one’s face into another face. Sometimes my cat gets so nervous there is blood in the litter box. He has a condition called FLUTD: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder.