Monday, May 14, 2012
The lie in it.
It's not a good day when I observe the color of paint in the play therapist's bathroom, notice the muted gray-blue of it, set so nicely against the creamy white-brown walls, and think of the lie in it. I am washing my hands, watching the walls; one minute thinking it's so nice and calm in here, the next realizing that someone wanted me to feel that, here in the therapist's bathroom. Someone came in and painted so carefully those calm colors. What a strange kind of manipulation. It's a bathroom.
So then I take a minute and notice the other things about this bathroom: the tall trashcan is nearly overflowing with paper towels; the Bath & Body Works lotion is the energizing citrus scent. I wonder about this choice. A rejected Christmas gift? The clearance bin? I just would have expected some soothing scent, ocean breeze or lavender. I wonder if it was a strategic choice -- some secret the play therapists know -- that the smell of fresh orange helps awaken the mind before a session, maybe.
And maybe not, maybe there's no rhyme or reason for any of it. I leave the bathroom and the play therapist is ready for me; I follow her down a short hallway and pass the bowl of tootsie rolls that has probably been there since last year. It's been six weeks since our last parent consultation.
"How old is she now?" the therapist asks as I sink into the plush, dark gray couch. "Four? Almost five?" She's six, I say. Thinking: this is something you should know. She talks about the regular power struggles we've had with Mad as I pull off my glasses and try to wipe the smudges. There seems to be a spot of coffee on the rim, somehow, and it won't come off.
I should have shaved my legs, I think, pulling my dress down over my stubbly knees. My thumb traces a bruise on the opposite hand. I try to clean my lenses one last time.
The small fountain on her dresser burbles along, filling in the silences.
What a careful display all of this is, I consider. I notice the ruffle sleeves of her cardigan, one small nod to whimsy in an otherwise simple, sedate outfit. She shaved her legs. I wonder if she has kids. Shouldn't she look more tired?
Everything is mostly good, I tell her, measuring it mentally. But isn't that always the case? Even here in this place that sells me the idea of good through throw pillows and the right shade of blue on the walls. Everything is mostly good. Or maybe it isn't. Maybe we've just gotten really good at tricking ourselves through home accents and smooth skin and energizing citrus. I think this again, stepping out into the mid-day. The sky is a blue that goes on and on, and for a moment I chase it down, over buildings and down highways. What is this place? I wonder, and I'm not really thinking about here; I'm mostly thinking about the whole world sprawled out around me.