My First Therapist

My First Therapist

I took this photograph while leaving my first therapist’s office. It was my last appointment. I went to her for 11 years. The first stretch lasted six years, then I took a much needed three-year break, and finished off in what felt like a five year stretch. I only stopped because she retired.

I remember the bronze figurine in her office from day one. It’s a reproduction of a 3rd–2nd century BCE ancient Greek dancer in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, though I didn’t know that at first. I think I initially wondered if it was a work by someone in her family because she once let it slip that her dad was a sculptor. Considering she was tight lipped about everything else that detail seemed significant. I also assumed she was trying to relate to me as an art critic.

I once asked her about the veiled woman and she told me she liked how it appeared to move between layers, which seemed to envelope her. I’d never thought of it that way, because I always saw it more theatrically, like an exaggerated pose that evokes a type of ephemeral splendor. That disagreement felt significant at the time. I knew the history of the object, but she wasn’t as interested in the backstory. I also knew in many ways we were both right.

The mini kimono and Hillary doll were more recent additions to that shelf which sat across the room behind her large comfy chair.

She also had a giant vermilion kimono hanging high on the room’s largest wall, while across from it were two small pink and purple flower oil paintings. She never told me where they all came from, and I’m sure I asked, probably more than once. Most of the things were nice but incongruous with everything else in the room. The building was built in the 1910s and it didn’t look like it had been renovated in a very long time. Her office was perched on the fifth floor of an narrow commercial edifice overlooking West 34th Street, though I always missed the cosiness of her former office in the New Yorker hotel, which was half a block away.

One of the most important things a therapist could teach you is to move on when you’re done, so I did. I asked her if I could take this photograph as I was walking out. It reminds me of where I’ve been.

Leave a Reply