Once upon a time, after a bad breakup
I moved from New York City back to rural Pennsylvania
to live with my parents for a few months while I got back on my feet.
I was 24, and I felt like life had ended.
I was funereal.
There was the sensation of being trapped, stuck in a broken heart
trying to process my grief in the comfort of the family home, a step back.
My folks were amazing, and once or twice a week I would go to
see the psychologist whom I had gone to after a traumatic childhood event:
at this point he was an adored memory,
and I treasured the wisdom I had gained from his insights in my pre-adolescence.
What strikes me in looking back at those forlorn, adult winter months spent
trying to find the spark in life again
are the myriad and beautiful memories I have of this man of letters I came to see as family.
If I concentrate, my memory will transport me back to the semi-organized
office where I sat across the desk from him,
pouring out my woes and drinking in his unconventional, wonderful advice.
There is the early winter afternoon light filtering through the dim windows
catching the perfect white of his beard and side-parted hair
blue eyes a-twinkle
words like "authentic" and phrases such as "hold the vision"
hanging in the air
his hand gestures hinting at spells and magic...
He took me to see his friend, an eccentric Catholic psychic,
Drove me to Elizabeth, PA home to a wonderful consignment shop
where each drawer of every cupboard was brimming with vintage riches,
hand-written cards on still surfaces containing advice snippets
and bawdy humor...
We frequently (too frequently, his favorite) ate at Panera bread where he'd always request
something not on the menu, oblivious to the annoyed register operator
who surely wished he'd just read and accept the reality of their pre-cooked limitations.
He helped unlock my fear of being alone
and one afternoon when I was lamenting the fact that I may never get over being left
he posed the question, "What if it was okay to love this man for the rest of your life?"
What if it was okay to be completely and totally oneself, even if no one else thought it appropriate?
What if most of the pain we felt as humans were the pains of the imprisoned, hoping to conform to the expected time frames of grief, loss and rebirth?
His question begat all of those and more and was truly the start of a magical
year of discovery that would lead to the seeds of true self-love.
He was a man of heart and mind, an altruist obsessed with
blur spins and visualizations,
tiffany lamps and child psychology.
Tonight I watched
movie (on Netflix instant watch)
and was so struck by the charm of Bill Cunningham
and what a rare treasure his kind are.
Dr. Brennan had the same remarkable childlike glee
that the documentary captured, an authenticity that can only come from the devotion to life
and pursuit of loveliness.
In the words of the lauded subject, "He who seeks beauty..... will find it."
How lovely to be reminded of such goodness this evening.