The psychiatrist on the 16th floor has a small black fluffy dog. She lives and works in this impossibly glamorous building which is, past its prewar lobby and doormen, quite shabby: tape holding down wires to a camera, the land line, the floor is worn, the furniture moved in about 1970, never moved again. This time I didn’t see the dog, but I did see that in her narrow bathroom, the towels say, “Buckingham Palace.”
I was forty minutes early for my appointment with her and I went around the block to eat a slice of pizza and drink a bottle of water, shitty cheap mealish activity. All real pizza places are equally shitty, with the worst pictures in the world, and dirty like at night they turn the place over and stomp on the walls and the ceiling to complete the look. I pulled off my boots and stuck my feet in the backup shoes.
The psychiatrist said, “That sounds very challenging. I’m sure when the kids are done testing you, things will get easier, and you’ll really be able to help them.”
I said, “Oh, I think so.” I always reassure other people I am all right, even my psychiatrist.
I actually was all right.
In the elevator going down, the man who runs the elevator and makes sure I don’t run rampant around that building said hello to the French couple who got in on 11, and then the lady with the dogs who got in on 8. Instead of assiduously pretending we were alone, as he does with every-three-months me, he was all friendly and the French lady said, “These are wonderful dogs!” Then we were on the first floor.
I spent my break fantasizing about never working this hard again, and I came back to school and saw the kids again, and, oh, these are my kids.
Last night I dreamed I was wandering all over trying to get this one class finished to get my master’s degree finished, because I was on my way to the party, and I had had too much to drink, although there was no wine at the party either I was on the way or I’d already been, and I had my cat with me, very inconvenient, I lived past the war monument in a desolate neighborhood.
Today I took the train a long way, and I was walking up, I didn’t recognize the stop, and I thought, what if when I go up, everything is different? What if now the Union R station is on another planet, or everyone is Japanese or it’s all pink or there are mountains?
It was just that I am used to the Coney Island bound side of the tracks at Union, not the Manhattan bound side, both have the same tile pattern, sort of India Indian.
Today I left school to get a cup of coffee, and I saw my millionth young man with a beard, and I thought, the day is coming, all the men will shave off all their beards, and we’ll see their faces again. What they all look like. It’s coming closer and closer.
Image: “New York City” by John Marin, Metropolitan Museum of Art.