Monday, May 26, 2008

Episode 10

Scene 1 - Therapist’s Office


Jason was my last appointment for the day and if his session went as well as I’d hoped I could release him to return to the team. I had already released him to return to his classes. Greg hadn’t pressured me to do either of these sooner and for that I was grateful. I was beginning to admire this man who seemed so different from anyone I had ever known.

“So, Jason how was your weekend?” I was beginning to enjoy getting to know this young man.

“It was okay.” His response was typical for his generation and age. I knew it all too well from Dana.

“Just okay?” I didn’t want to push too hard but I sensed that it hadn’t gone as well as he had hoped.

“My parents were here.”

“How did that go?” My question seemed to hit a nerve as he become more restless.

“You know how parents are.”

Ironically, yes I did.

We talked some more and it was clear he was struggling with his overly protective mother. It gave some insight as to why he was here.

“So, Jason, what do you remember about that day?” He knew which day I meant.

“I don’t want to talk about that.” He looked up. “Not yet.”

“You know I can’t release you to play with the team until you do.” I kept my voice gentle.

“I know.”

I sensed something else was going on. “Jason, do you want to play?”

He didn’t answer with words but it was clear that returning to the team was not a high priority for him, and that was something that he and I definitely needed to talk about. Even though Greg hadn’t pressured me concerning Jason, I was certain he wouldn’t be happy for any long delays in getting this young man back on the team. I had to be very careful what I shared with Greg but I suspected that Jason’s reluctance to rejoin the team was noticed by more than just myself.

I wondered just how much Greg knew.



Scene 2 - Therapist’s Home


Dana was now with her father and I had the house to myself. I had taken her to the airport the day before. The house was so quiet that I found it almost unsettling.

I flipped through the stations on the television and decided that even though I had access to more than one hundred channels there was nothing on worth watching. I scanned the DVD collection that Dana and I had purchased recently but didn’t feel like watching any of them without her. We had started a movie night once a week and ate popcorn in our pajamas.

I wasn’t use to be so restless. I wasn’t even in the mood to read a good book, something I always enjoyed doing. Then I tried to relax and meditate.

I jumped as the phone rang. I wasn’t expecting anyone to call. I checked the caller id - it was Greg, the last person I truly expected to call. I had given him my home phone number for emergencies and perhaps subconsciously something more.

“Hello.” It was almost a question.

“Georgia?”

“Yes.” My voice sounded breathless, even to me. I felt giddy and disappointed at the same time. I wasn’t a schoolgirl anymore but I was acting like one. I straightened my back and walked over to the window.

“I wanted to invite you to our next game.” His voice sounded matter-of-fact, which is how I should be acting.

I was busy mentally processing his invitation and several minutes must have passed.

“And before you say no, I wanted to let you know what a difference your visit made to the team.” He had taken my silence for something else.

“I’d love to come.” Did I really say that?

“Great! I’ll see you Saturday at five. Jason will be waiting for you at the gate to escort you into the team area.”



Scene 3 - Therapist’s Office


Regina looked like her old self again. I caught her just as she was seeing her last client for the day.

“Georgia, just the person I was about to call.”

I eyed her suspiciously. “Really!”

“Yes, it’s my turn to take you out to dinner.”

I opened my mouth to protest but she beat me to it.

“And I want take no for an answer - even if I have to stalk you all the way home.” She folded her arms and gave me that and-you-know-I’ll-do-it look.

“Okay,” giving in seemed the best option at this point. “What’s the occasion?”

“Life.” She raised her arms up to the sky and twirled around. “We’re celebrating life,” she ended her twirl and looked straight at me, “and just how blessed we truly are to have such wonderful people in our lives.”

I couldn’t agree with her more.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Season 1 - Episode 9

Scene 1 - Therapist’s Office

I was making real progress with Jason, especially after I attended the team practice. It was clear he respected and admired his coach, something I was beginning to do as well, despite my initial reluctance. I never imagined that I’d find so much in common with a sports coach, but I found him fascinating - truly fascinating.

Jason couldn’t participate because I hadn’t released him yet so he sat on the sidelines. At one point he even made sure I had something to drink - it was clear he would do anything to keep in good standing with Greg.

Greg. It took me awhile to adjust to calling him by his first name. It felt intimate - almost too intimate - but as he said, we were colleagues.

The practice was an eye-opener for me. I was expecting more of a testosterone-laden free-for-all but instead it was a well-choreographed and planned event. It was clear that Greg was in charge.

His use of time in hundreds of hours reminded me of that day in my office when he said practice started at 1600 hours sharp. A military background perhaps? Coach Greg Daniels was something of an enigma to me and I found that intriguing and exciting.

As I wrote up my notes from my last session I reflected back on my talk with Greg’s team. No eye-rolling, no fidgeting, no inappropriate behavior - just disciplined attention to every word I said. Made me wonder how much preparation Greg did before I arrived.

Jason would be here soon and I was eager to get this young man on his way to continue to live his life.



Scene 2 - Therapist’s Home

School was over for the summer and Dana was working almost full-time, saving up money for her trip to visit her father. I hadn’t seen her this excited in quite sometime. It was both wonderful and painful as I struggled with my own issues over the direction our lives had taken since the breakup of my marriage, finally accepting that residual issues from my own childhood had gotten in the way of our lives all these years.

I decided that Dana’s absence this summer would be a good time to finally deal with some of the demons I had buried all these years - demons that were now coming out of the closet, refusing to be buried anymore. My challenge was to release them and not let them control my life any longer - a challenge that scared me to death.

And I thought to myself that for a therapist I could be pretty dense at times.



Scene 3 - Therapist’s Office

Regina was in my office today. I had insisted. She sat in the chair that was the twin to the one in her office. It nearly swallowed her up. It was the end of the day and I had brought food. Throwing a blanket on the floor I setup an impromptu picnic.

She eyed me cautiously.

“Who says I’m hungry,” at least her voice had some spunk to it.

“You will be when you see what I have.”

“I don’t think so,” she turned her nose up at me and wrapped her arms around herself like a defiant child.

“Okay - but your cousin said these were all your favorites and even from your favorite restaurant.”

That got her attention.

The smell of fried chicken, cornbread and baked beans wafted through my office and I felt my stomach growl. I hadn’t eaten lunch and suddenly realized just how hungry I was.

Despite her stubbornness, Regina looked over to see the logo of Gerry’s Chicken Shack branded on the side of the containers I had unpacked.

I dug in not wanting to wait for her to make up her mind and my stomach finally stopped growling after my third bite of chicken.

“Um, this is good.” My words were almost lost through a mouthful of cornbread and butter. “Your cousin knew what she was talking about.”

“She couldn’t find a good restaurant even if one was right in front of her.” The defiance in Regina's voice gave me hope. “I’m the one who told her about Gerry’s in the first place.”

“Yes, but she’s the one who told me about it.” I scooped up some beans with the cheap plastic spoons that came with the food. “Um, these beans are delicious.”

Regina pretended not to notice how much I was enjoying my impromptu picnic but I saw her eye the food as I took another bite.

She slid from the chair and finally joined me on the floor

“You know that’s the kind of food that will kill you if you eat too much of it.”

“Then I guess you’d better help me eat it since there’s enough for three of us.”

And we had a good laugh. Mission accomplished.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Season 1 - Episode 8

Scene 1 - Therapist’s Office

I looked at the appointment book - my next and last session was with none other than Coach Daniels. A mixture of fear and eagerness welled up inside of me wondering what he wanted. I couldn’t tell him anything about Jason without breaking a whole host of rules, something I wasn’t willing to do nor did I desire to do so.

Still feeling perplexed at this unexpected turn of events when he arrived, I couldn’t help but notice what a big man he was as I studied him for any clues as to why he made this appointment. Instead of feeling threatened, I felt safe in his presence and I found that perplexing as well as intriguing.

Greeting him with every ounce of professionalism I could muster, I gestured for him to have a seat. His frame dwarfed my otherwise cozy and comfortable chair that most of my patients looked lost in.

“You’re probably wondering why I’m here.” His voice cut through the uncomfortable silence.

“As a matter of fact - yes,” I swallowed the lump forming in my throat. “Yes, I am”

“I’d like you to come talk to the team about the recent violence on campus.”

His request surprised me.

“I’d be happy to.” I took a deep breath. He must have noticed the questioning look on my face.

“You’re curious about my request.”

“Well - yes. It’s not everyday that someone from your area of expertise asks for help from someone from my profession.”

“Then we’ll just have to be the first, won’t we,” his voice was soothing as if he was coaxing a child to take a daring step forward.

A smile formed inside of me at the realization that he was using some of the techniques from my profession to get his way.

Just what did this man want? My mind started to whirl in speculation. Then a sudden sense of acceptance came over me and I didn’t even try to stop myself from finding out.

“I think we have the same objectives,” his voice broke through my wandering thoughts, almost reading my mind. “In fact, why don’t you come to the team’s practice tomorrow and see how we train. We start at four.”

My shock must have registered on my face.

“They don’t bite - not really - despite your experience with Jason. He’s just a confused kid.”

A long moment passed before I answered. “I’ll have to check my schedule.”

“I can wait - I still have twenty minutes left for my appointment.” His smile nearly melted me right then and there.

I moved as gracefully as I could, walking past him to get to the outer office area to check the master calendar - or at least pretend to. My evening schedule was really my own but I needed some distance from the overwhelming presence of this man to collect my thoughts and decide how to respond.

A voice in my head said no, but a deeper voice in my heart said yes. I decided to listen to my heart over my head this time. It was just a team practice after all. I’d still be home in time for dinner.

I returned to my office to find him looking at the certificates and pictures on my wall. He turned towards me when I closed the door.

“So, can you make it to the team practice?”

“Yes, Coach Daniels, I can,” I said with more confidence than I felt.

“It’s Greg.” He stepped closer, his eyes locked with mine. Everything unfolded in slow motion. At least that’s how it felt.

I held my breath as he came even closer, finally realizing he was asking me to call him by his first name.

“As one colleague to another.” He extended his hand towards mine. My hand felt small in his as he firmly but gently sealed our deal with the customary gesture. “Don’t forget - sixteen hundred hours.” He turned towards the door and smiled at me as he left.

It felt good to have a strong, good-looking man take such a positive interest in me. I allowed myself to enjoy the moment and then strongly reminded myself that this was business and would have to stay business.

He really was a good-looking man and his smile was to die for! Did I really just think that? Yes - yes I did. I grabbed my coat and purse and enjoyed my happiness all the way to my car. The drive home was one of the most pleasant I’d experienced in a very long time.



Scene 2 - Therapist’s Home


I returned home to find a note from Dana. She was out with friends. I reflected on my time with Coach Daniels - er Greg - and decided that I needed to be cautious - very, very cautious. The question - was it my heart or my professional voice that needed cautioning.

The answer was both.



Scene 3 - Therapist’s Office

Back in Regina’s office for the first time in weeks for one of our sessions I felt different - it felt different - being here. She was looking more like her old self but I could tell she was still deeply disturbed by the recent round of school violence, even if the threat was a hoax. I looked at the calendar and realized just how close it was to the anniversary of her son’s death.

“How are you doing?” I was the one asking the questions today.

“Hanging on.” Her words were simple but her voice spoke volumes.

“Then hang onto me.” I grabbed her hand and pulled her with me towards the window that had offered me so much solace over the years. I put an arm around her and realized just how frail she had become these past few weeks, something I couldn’t ignore. She was my dear friend, my lifeline.

I had needed her and now she needed me.