Every Tuesday between 5:03 and 5:06 p.m., I hustle into Suite 1740 on the seventeenth floor for an appointment with my psychotherapist. Apparently, I’m dealing with PTSD from some childhood stuff, but mostly the car-wreck that broke my neck. I used to arrive for my 5:00 appointments at 4:50, but that left too much time alone in the waiting room. I’ve had a couple of panic attacks in those ten waiting minutes. Usually, it was fifteen minutes. The woman before me seemed to run late every week.
One week, I browsed through a travel magazine in the lobby. I found an article ranking the best hotels in cities across North America. I flipped to the Toronto rankings. Tara and I drive up to Toronto once a year to shop, eat, drink, and hang with friends. Since my first major panic attack was while driving, driving has become an issue—particularly highway driving. I started to think about driving up to Toronto and whether or not I could make it without a total panic flip-out. I suddenly felt dizzy. I swore I was going to pass out. There was a mother and her two kids in the waiting room with me. I didn’t want to make a scene in front of them.
I felt weak. Breathing became difficult. I left the lobby and paced the hallway, calming myself. I grabbed the handle of the door leading back into the lobby. Someone on the inside turned the handle and pushed the door open toward me. The blonde-haired woman who sees my therapist before me exited.
I see her every Tuesday. She’s middle-aged, maybe late forties. Her skin looks weathered. She wears her hair shoulder-length, bobbed hair with bangs. I haven’t seen her in anything but blue jeans with loafers. She stands about five-foot-three and weighs about 150-160lbs. I’ve seen her every Tuesday for the past forty-eight weeks. I’ve also seen books about addiction left out in our therapist’s office after her sessions on a couple of occasions.
I think she sees me. I wouldn’t know. We’ve never made eye contact. I notice her and then divert my eyes to the floor. The times that I have looked back up to smile or nod, her eyes were toward the floor. The same goes with the dark-haired younger lady waiting to see my therapist after me. She has kind of a cute, snoopy vibe with her hair draping her long, slim face. She’s always looking at the floor whenever I try to make eye contact with.
The three of us see each other every week. We never say a word to each other, not even a gesture. How many times a day does this happen in this lobby? How many times a day or a week does this occur at the offices of psychological counselors across this country…this world?
The dynamic while I’m waiting and she leaves our counselors’ office after her therapy is that I don’t want to pry. Perhaps the evidence of crying remains. I don’t want to make her feel uncomfortable. I don’t want to look too happy or relaxed, in case she’s had a rough session.
When I’m leaving my therapy, most times I feel much better than when I entered. I’m usually happy and upbeat. However, when I leave, I put on a serious face. I don’t want to appear to feel great in case the Snoopy resembling woman after me is in a terrible state of mind. It feels like I’d be acting like a show-off. So, I leave with a solemn face.
Due to my anxiety and subsequent treatment, I have this awkward and silent bond with these two other women. This is the same bond I’m sure other therapy-seeking people have with some of their counselor’s other clients. I don’t know how I’d feel if I saw them on the street. Would they recognize me and my long, goat-like goatee outside of the lobby? Would I say hello or just act like I didn’t recognize them? What if they suddenly got up for karaoke at the Irish Pub I like to call home? That would really weird, but the following Tuesday would be even weirder.
Should I nod? Start a conversation? Would it be possible that we all meet up at a local coffee shop and talk about our issues? Getting together for Happy Hour drinks probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Or, will we just go one with our lives crossing and intersecting at similar times every week? I’ll bet on the latter.