Lately the spoils of being a psychologist seem a bit evasive. The whole feeling good for helping humanity thing, it’s just hard to come by these days. A client ends treatment early because they’re happy, but they’re happy for totally wrong reasons. Nobody shows up to your mental health workshop for underprivileged parents, and then you can’t even figure out how to lock the building. So yeah, I wasn’t entirely feeling up for it today when it was time for the schlep to week two of the workshop. I ran off to get the mail before leaving since I wouldn’t be back for two days. Expecting only some carefully packaged comic books for my roommate, a small brown paper package addressed to Bobcat Valentine Loveless, from Buffy Loveless, took me by surprise.
One late night in NYC, intoxicated with cucumbers and hot chocolate, Mitch, Jenny, Emily, Amy, and I gave each other aliases, which we had never used again. I’d forgotten Amy was sending me something. I knew it couldn’t be chocolates inside that chocolates box.
I was in a rush to leave, but I paused to open it before climbing into the car. What was inside made me gasp. Like, actually. The almost silent kind. When was the last time you had a good gasp? For a moment, it might as well have been the ashes of New York City in that box.
Amy has recently moved out of the apartment we shared in Harlem. The one where we kept our original quote wall, on scraps of paper, taped down the long hallway entrance. Utterances that, probably not meant to be funny, sounded just too good to forget. This box contains the fragments of that quote wall neatly wrapped in an orange ribbon. The words on those scraps of paper archived most of the people I met in New York and most of the times I laughed. They were moments that proved to me that the city is magic, moments that surely I would have forgotten had they not been written down.
After pulling out of the garage, it took me 10 minutes of wet eyes before I could stand to hear music. I didn’t dare take the ribbon off, and I wondered where I should keep the box, like I was deciding what to do with an urn of remains.
Being in New York was an unspeakable experience, as was leaving it, and I didn’t expect that to be the thing that was on my mind today. Tonight, once I felt a little tougher, I read through the scraps of paper and laughed. Until I’m in heaven and I have a perfect memory, thank goodness Amy invented the quote wall so I can remember how funny every day is. And so I can stop feeling sorry for myself.