Should I drive? No, Mom can drive
this time. I don’t feel like driving. But I do need to get more driving
practice in so I can get my license sometime before I leave for college. That
way I can go over to Josh’s house without inconveniencing anyone else. And I
can return my library books or go pick up whatever I want from the store.
That’ll be nice. But I’m glad my mom is driving because I don’t feel like
driving. I am too nervous. I’d rather not try to drive when I’m this
preoccupied. I should have gone to the bathroom before we left home. That’s
alright though. It’s not a long drive, and they probably have bathrooms there.
I mean, they must. I wonder what the receptionist will look like. Not that it
matters. She’ll probably mispronounce my name; everyone always does. I hope
there’s no one else in the waiting room. I wouldn’t know whether to make eye
contact or not. I’m sure they’re not drooling crazies (am I a drooling crazy?)
but it seems like a breach of privacy to make casual eye contact when dealing with
potential drooling crazies, even if you are quite possibly a crazy yourself. Even
if you don’t drool.
There’s Hollywood Ave. We’re about halfway there, then, right? I guess we are. I wonder
if they named the street after the Hollywood
whether they just ended up with the same name. Holly. Wood. It must cause some minor
confusion. “Wait a minute, you live in Hollywood?” I
wouldn’t want to live in this Hollywood.
Or the other one, for that matter. Too many people. Actually, that’s a lie. I
like people, as scenery. I love New
York City. But I hate glamour and ritz and fakeness.
The radio needs to be louder. I don’t feel like talking. What am I doing? Wait,
stupid question, I’m riding in the car. But what am I doing? I don’t need this. I’m not traumatized, I don’t hear voices,
I’ve never actually tried to kill
myself. I wonder if he’s going to ask how I would, if I did. “Oh, don’t worry
Doctor. It’s only September. I can’t freeze to death on purpose until November at least.” I wonder if I actually could
kill myself. Hypothermia would be such an easy way to die. Sometimes, living in
this ridiculously horrible climate can have its perks, right? I could perish by
my method of choice any time I wanted between Halloween and Easter.
I’m here. Mom was right, this stretch of land does look familiar. Josh lives
right on the other side of that line of trees. Well, somewhere back there. I
could probably walk. Would I ever walk through the city alone? It’s comforting
to know that he’s so close. I’m glad he isn’t actually here, though. That would
be awkward. He’d be all worried. I hate when people worry about me because then
they’re so much easier to upset. Also I don’t like admitting that I need
support, because that’s admitting that this is important which maybe it is and
maybe it isn’t. I’ve been thinking of coming here for probably a year. But I
don’t actually have any real problems. I’m just sad all the time. Except for
like, the last three days, which sort of messes up my statistics. If he just
tells me to go home and whine somewhere else… I don’t know what I’ll do. Give
up, probably. Even if I don’t have some hormonal quirk that makes my brain
misbehave, I don’t think I can do this on my own. Which sucks because no matter
how many people express concern or tell me how awesome I am, I always feel alone anyways. Everyone’s always alone. Can you really touch another human
being? I don’t think you can. You can’t fully experience their emotions because
you aren’t inside their head. You can touch their skin, but you can only
understand what they reveal. I feel cold and twisted up inside myself a lot.
Maybe that’s what the big deal about sex is. I don’t know, I’ve never tried it.
Is that how you really connect with someone else? Technically, you’re inside them, I suppose. And depending on your preferences, you can technically be
inside their head. (Oh, that’s a
gross mental picture. I meant oral sex, I promise.) I don’t think it’s the same
my God, the waiting room is ugly. I pictured it as clean and bright, but I
think the attempts to make the space look NOT clinical went a little too far.
The chairs are made for hunchbacks, the wallpaper is some sort of dirty pastel
pattern, and I bet the carpet was last replaced in 1972. My mom turned thirteen
that year. That’s too old for carpet.
we in the right place? We must be. The paper with the directions scrawled on it
is still crinkled in my pocket, and I know we followed every line on it. I know
where we are. We’re right near Josh. And it says the doctor’s name, in white
letters on a brown plaque, on one of the doors. Damn, these chairs are
uncomfortable. Why is it so dim in here? I think this waiting room is causing
me clinical depression. Ha. Ha ha ha. Clinical.
really shouldn’t be here. I know plenty of people who should be here but
aren’t, who could only be dragged here over their own dead bodies, but I am the
one who is here. I am just weak, and whiny, and sensitive. I don’t have
uncontrollable mood swings or throw up all my food or climb into bathtubs with plugged-in toasters. I have cut myself once out of a scientific curiosity, and I almost
passed out seeing the few drops of blood that I elicited. I should just get up
and walk to Josh’s house and pretend I was never here. I could have someone hit
me in the head with a metaphorical (or literal) hammer until I learned to just GET OVER IT. I could move to Alaska or some
obscure small town in England
and live as a hermit. Actually, it would probably be easier to live as a hermit
in New York City
because no one knows anyone else there. I don’t have a drug problem. No one in my family has died. I mean, no one I knew. People die all the time, and probably some I'm related to, but no one close to me. I have really (maybe overly) healthy self confidence. I
am plenty happy! I was happy this past week, except for those times that I
almost burst into tears in class for no reason. PMS probably. And I’m only
unhappy at school because I hate everyone there. And at work because it’s
boring. And at home because I share a room with my irritating little brother.
But I’m not unhappy with Josh. And not with Joe, who has sat in this waiting room
many times before. Maybe I just need to hang out with happier people. That's a lie. I hate
happy people. I hate almost anyone who ever opens their mouth around me.
There’s three exceptions to that rule, three people in the entire world I would
miss if they were gone. Maybe five, if I’m being generous. The extra two are
the only ones who can make me laugh. But mostly just the three. Do I have a problem? I must have a
problem or I wouldn’t contemplate coming here for so long. I am just
rationalizing now, but it’s perfectly normal for normal teenagers to need to talk to someone (“talk to someone” is how my mom always phrases it) because
growing up is so confusing. It’s the age-old problem of identity, that’s all. I
have every right to be here.
old guy who looked like my sixth-grade history teacher just wandered in. He
took one look at us and asked me “Are you Jaclyn?” I said yes, and he said he’d
be with us in just a moment, and turned around and left again. Was that the
doctor? It must have been. He looks as shabby as his stupid waiting room. I
suppose it’s too late to leave now. Who steps out of their office at three
o’clock in the afternoon? Especially someone without a receptionist to say,
“The doctor will be in in just a moment. Thank you for waiting patiently.” Ha ha ha. Patient. There
aren’t even any crappy magazines for me to pretend to laugh at, and then
surreptitiously flip to the articles on sex. Good thing I brought a couple of
magnets to play with. After this I am going straight to Josh’s house and we can
talk all about it. Or not talk about it. What if the doctor decides I don’t
need to come back? I will feel embarrassed and ashamed. See, there I go
already. Quantifying and classifying my feelings. I can’t decide if I’m too
emotional or too emotionless; too guilty or not guilty enough. What do I
I’m not going
down this road again, not right now. I focus on the click of the magnets and
making snarky observations about the waiting room. Mom laughs along. I need
someone to talk to. In the way that my mom means when she says it. All my
friends listen and ask and understand, but they don’t help anymore. I’m like an
ice sculpture: if I melt at a warm touch, I stop existing. What the hell am I
talking about? I click my magnets together again, and then turn one over so
they repel each other. I juggle them with one hand and try not to drop them onto the floor. Maybe I should get different magnets to play with. Different shapes
and strengths. The great thing about playing with magnets is that if you lose
one you can find it again easily. Opposites attract.
I wish my mother
didn’t have to sit in on this. I can’t say much to her, because she always
wants to talk about things I don’t want to talk about. She’ll ask over and over
again even if I say “Mom, please leave me alone. It’s not something I want to
discuss.” A weird rush of elation passes through me. I am getting help. I don’t
know what is going to happen for this next hour, what beans I will have to
spill, or what realizations I will come to, but it’s a step. Maybe being miserable
and irritable and alone isn’t just a personality trait. It’s weird to admit to
myself, but I’m not sure how well-adjusted I want to be. Depression is
comforting. It’s home, it’s the ground. You can’t sink any lower. Happiness is
just anxiety that hasn’t become negative yet. Happiness is nervousness about
the prospect of maybe things getting worse again. And that’s not healthy, is
The doctor walks
in again and invites us into his office. My mom picks up her purse, I shove my
hand in my back jeans pocket, and we oblige him. He disappears into a different
door. I guess he’s back for good now.
There’s a couch!
Why is there always a fucking couch? And a loveseat, too. The decorating scheme in here
is the same as the waiting room. I wouldn’t notice the decorating schemes of
places if it wasn’t all my mother ever talked about. She wants to be an
interior designer, but not enough to actually pursue it. Maybe she’s the crazy
one. I want to lie down on the couch, because lying down is comfortable, but I
don’t. That’s too stereotypical. Of course, it isn’t a leather couch so maybe
it’s okay. I sit instead, and the cushion collapses underneath me. I think my
butt is brushing the floor. Maybe the couch is thirty-seven years old too, just
like the carpet. Or people regularly jump up and down on them. Or drool on
them. I’m not crazy! My mom sits down
next to me, and the couch sinks underneath her too, so we both kind of tilt
towards the middle. We are not touching. She asks me if I want a pillow, and I
decline. A couple seconds later, I change my mind and ask her to please pass me
one. A Freud action figure stands almost forgotten on the cabinet against the
wall, which looks like the set of drawers in Mom’s bedroom. It’s covered with
stacks of papers and two or three mismatched lamps. On the table in front of
me, between the couch and the doctor’s imposing swivel chair, there sits a Zen
rock garden. The kind with the sand and the polished stones and the wooden
rake. Someone has created wavy furrows in the sand that are vaguely parallel.
Maybe the doctor did it himself because no one else ever touched it. There is a
poster hanging on the wall of some painting that is pastel and icky like the
wallpaper, and underneath in big letters it says IMPRESSIONISM. At least it’s a
scholarly way to decorate, if not an aesthetically pleasing one. I pick up the
rake from the Zen garden and the handle snaps in half. I quickly set it back
down, and my mother laughs at my antics. I think she’s relieved I’m doing
something other than playing with my magnets. I laugh too, because it’s funny
that something very obviously intended to relieve stress just caused me a blip of stress by breaking in my hands. How very Western. Lao Tzu would be ashamed.
enters, and greets us. He looks less distracted now, and of course has a pad of
yellow paper and a dark blue pen. He pushes the door into motion and it slowly
begins to close. The chair sags under his weight, just like everything else in
the office. He uncaps his pen, and begins speaking. He’s got a nice voice. The door
slams shut. I am fighting back the tears already, and he hasn't even asked me why I'm here. A confusing mash of emotions plummeted into my stomach: anxiety, hope, and a tinge of embarrassment all swirled over top the usual beige sadness and exhaustion. Maybe today would be different.