I think the drive will take about twenty minutes, that I'll make that right onto Apple Lane, a road I have passed for years, and then the left will be right there and then the second driveway on the right.
I turn onto Apple Lane, expecting a little development, a few make-believe roads and cul-de-sacs, but Apple Lane has higher aspriations. It starts climbing a mountain. The left I am supposed to take comes after a couple of miles, not yards. I have left the town behind below me and I am on a steep road climbing up. The trees are all grey and leafless. The sky too is grey.
Perhaps I've missed my way, but no, there is the driveway he said would be there. There's a small building off to the right, separate from the main house. I stop the car and look over at the quick notes I made last week while I was on the phone. Yes, he said there'd be a separate building. This must be it.
I step out of the car and lok out across a Catskills expanse. I feel way up high. It is beautiful. It is not often that I get up into the mountains I live so close to.
I open the door and walk in and he comes to greet me. "Stan?" I ask, extending my hand. He nods and smiles. I look at him. So this is Stan. It's been a couple of years since I've come to talk to a therapist. I'm not sure I want to be here. No, I do want to be here, but still.
He looks like this: a little bit like one of the seven dwarves, a type I am generally comfortable with. Comfortable looking. A cardigan. Sweatpants, socks, and a little round knitted cap on the back of his grey head.
He asks me gently to leave my shoes by my coat and I step into a room that feels made of wood. There's a desk in the corner and windows on both sides of the corner. He sits at the desk, turned in my direction, and gestures towards an armchair nearby.
I imagine my friend Jane sitting there. She told me she's been going to see Stan off and on for twenty-five years. I have chosen him for this reason alone.
I sit in the chair and pause before I leap into conversation. I look around the room. I want to see where I am. There's a fire -- real or fake, I can't tell -- in the corner opposite Stan's big desk by the windows. I cross my legs under me and somehow we get talking. Perhaps he says, "What brings you here?"
His voice is calm and deep. He looks trustworthy and I want to trust him. He doesn't smile. His face is serious. He's paying attention. He's sitting cross-legged now too as if my doing so has given him permission, and we sit there like two old yogi's. I had guessed from the prayer flags outside that he's into something or other and this confirms it.
I tell him lots of stories, mostly from the past, a little from the present. I talk alot. It's easy to talk. There's alot to say.
I wind around to the punchline.
"I have all this evidence," I say, "all this evidence that points to my father fucking me, but no memory in the center that proves it, just a blank space."
I feel like a cliche. I wish there were better words for this.
But it's like a door swung open a few days ago and opened up into a chasm I feel I'm hanging over now. Suddenly the strings of memories that have kept me company all these decades look very different -- there is a harshness I never saw before, a barrenness, and the romantic father doesn't seem so romantic. He seems like a monster, a lost and forgotten monster, unaware of his own demons.
Stan asks if I would mind standing up. He says that part of the way he works is to get a sense of a person's physicality.
I stand up about five feet from him. I put my hands in my pockets. I don't put on a defiant show like I might have ordinarily. This is a place I want to be very honest. I look down at the floor.
"Your legs are long," says Stan and I want to kill him. I flash on the boy thirty years ago who asked if I was a dancer. I hated him. I was wearing a leotard and jeans and my hair was in a tight ponytail. I knew I looked like a dancer that day, but it made me furious that he would fall for my disguise.
I feel Stan's gaze on me. "What are you feeling?" he asks.
"I have this feeling of 'unjustness,'" I say, struggling to put it into words, "like I'm being taken advantage of." And I do, like he's over there at his desk on some private trip and my body is supposed to be part of it.
I look towards the armchair. "Sure, go ahead," he says and I sit down. "You grew up too fast," says Stan and then he adds gently, "You don't have to do anything here that you don't want to."
It sounds nice, but it's not that easy. I am so used to doing things I don't want to do.
I like the room though. I like the wood and the mountains beyond the window. I can't see anything from where I sit except mountain and it feels like I'm in a special, privileged place.