Friday, October 2, 2015 (original post date)
I watched my mother fidget nervously in her seat. I knew she was nervous because of the way she picked at her cuticles; it was a horrible habit that I thought she had dropped. Guess I thought wrong. I looked around the room for something to distract myself with before my temper ran away and I yelled at her for her stupid habit. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to look at. Ergo why I hate waiting rooms. It was pristine and white and boring. None of the potted plants were real and the choice of décor was beyond drab; it was downright sad. None of the magazines, of which there were many, interested me and since I was under the impression that mom and I were going to the movies, I didn’t brother to bring a book or my Nintendo DS. Thanks a lot, Mom.
I could hear the lady behind the receptionist texting and I was appalled at how she ignored the ringing phone on her desk. Just as well, her nasal valley girl voice was like nails on a chalkboard to me. Sometimes, when the ringing got really insistent and irritating, she would simply pick up the receiver and drop it back in its cradle carelessly. Well, thank goodness for small miracles. I was just wondering what part of Desolation of Smaug I was missing when the door that wasn’t the one my mother and I entered through opened and a woman stepped through.
She checked the clipboard in her hands. I noticed she held the clipboard in her right and I guess there was a pen in her left. “Martha Ramirez and Net Colonel?” she called out. I was glad that she pronounced it correctly. My mother stood up right away, my hand in hers. I took that as my cue to stand up as well. The woman approached us and I saw her tuck a pen in her breast pocket with her left. She wasn’t young but she wasn’t old. I guessed that she was in her 40s. Her blond her was tied back into a tight bun that rested on the very crown of her skull and she wore red cat-eye glasses. She had a kind smile on her face and I smiled back when I realize that, except for a bad of mascara and eyeliner, she wasn’t wearing any make-up. My kind of woman.
When the stranger offered my mother her hand (right hand, I noted), Mom took in with both of hers, unnecessarily, I thought. “Its lovely to finally meet you,” the woman was saying. She turned to shake my hand; her left this time. I smiled and accepted the gesture. “You must be Nat,” she said. “I’m Dr. Quinn. Please to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you,” I said politely. “Is your first name Harley, by any chance?”
Dr. Quinn chuckled. “I get that a lot. Sadly, I’m much older than that Dr. Quinn.” She winked at me. I took some slight pleasure in my mother’s completely blank look. She had no idea what we were talking about. “Do you know why you’re here, Nat?” Dr. Quinn said.
I wish she had been more specific. Because specifically, no, I had no idea why I was there. But I reflected back on my behavior from the past year. The late night phone calls with my boyfriend, the weekend-long visits to my best friend’s college campus where all kinds of unethical and possible illegal experimentation took place, the what my father referred to as “talking backness,” the emotional tantrums, and the teary visits to my mother. So you could say I had some inkling of why my mother lied about going to the movies and brought me to see a psychologist.
I crossed my arms and shrugged. “I guess,” was my reply. Yeah, that seemed about right.
“Good,” Dr. Quinn replied. I was sure that in that moment Dr. Quinn would send me into her office so she could have a moment alone to talk about me to my mother. Instead, she told my mother that she was free to wait in the waiting room for me but was otherwise not expected to return for another hour. Then she gestured for me to follow her and led me into her office. And I did, but not before hugging my mother good-bye. She may infuriate me from time to time, but mom was an innocent party in the mess that had become my life as of late, and I knew she was only doing what she thought was best for me. She was a good mother, and who knows? Maybe there was something to this therapy stuff.
Dr. Quinn’s office was much more welcoming that the waiting room; it was stuffed with mahogany bookshelves lined with volumes upon volumes. I scanned for her name on the spines of her collection, hoping to find out what her first name was. Maybe her first name really was Harley and she just opted to not share that information with her patients. Or maybe her fist name was Frances? That would be just as juicy. I mean, what are the odds that her last name was Quinn, she was blond, and she was a psychologist? You don’t get such a major nerdy coincidence without some kind of payoff.
Behind me, Dr. Quinn had already set her old school kitchen time and was waiting patiently behind her desk. I noticed there were no family photos on her desk; just a crystal dog paperweight, a very ornate letter opener, a box of tissues next to a hand sanitizer pump, an outdated looking Dell desktop, and a gold plated name plate that read simple “Dr. Quinn, Ph. D.” I tried to hide my displeasure at her less than revealing desk contents as I took a seat in front of it. The wall behind Dr. Quinn was no less professional than her desk; framed university degrees upon framed university degrees. I was starting to rethink Dr. Quinn’s age; 40s may be too young for someone with so many degrees.
“So, Nat,” Dr. Quinn started, opening a manila file and ruffling through its contents.
“Look,” I interrupted. “You seem like a nice lady and all, but I really shouldn’t be here.” I stood up.
Dr. Quinn smiled again. “What makes you think that?”
“Because there’s no way my parents can afford –” I gestured at the room, with its expensive fleur-de-lis wallpaper and massive burgundy velvet chaise. “ – this!”
“Have a seat,” Dr. Quinn said; it was request, not a command. I did as she asked, arms and legs crossed. Dr. Quinn proceeded to explain that my parents found her through a student led organization that covered a majority of the costs of therapists through grant funding for cases that showed great need, especially great financial need. “So, you see, Nat,” Dr. Quinn concluded. “You have nothing to worry about. I’m not expensive and most of the costs are already covered.”
I sulked. There goes my one selfless reason to talk myself out of therapy. I heaved a sigh, defeated. “Alright,” I said. “So, how does this work?”
“Well, since this is our first time meeting,” Dr. Quinn said. “I figured you could use the opportunity to get to know me a little better.” I raised a suspicious eyebrow at this. Dr. Quinn pointed at the open file on her desk. “After all, I know plenty about you.”
I scoffed. “What you think you know is just someone else’s version of me.”
Dr. Quinn nodded. “You’re right. And you’ll have plenty of opportunities to rectify that. But for today, you have the remaining 52 minutes to ask me anything you want.”
I tapped my chin, considering the offer. “Anything?” I asked, my lips curling up into a smile.
“Anything,” Dr. Quinn repeated. “Except for my first name.” I groaned and Dr. Quinn laughed. “All in good time, my dear,” she promised.