90 minutes

by MB


We have 90 more minutes together. Before I leave. Before nothing changes. Before I am just another girl walking out of a discretely marked office in midtown - another body and collection of neuroses and composition of thoughts and cells and fears that entered that very same office 11 months ago - thrust back into the world.

90 minutes. Before everything changes. Before I say goodbye to the place where I let air the most shameful parts of myself, where I swore up and down against all who dared question me that I would not cry - no matter what - and the place that I learned that maybe I didn't have a choice about the crying part, so I learned to cry. 

The place where I ate pizza and sandwiches and Chinese food, body and mind full of grief and fear and excitement and the realization that, surrounded by people so much like myself, I am rarely as alone as I believe myself to be.

90 minutes left in the place where I decided to, once and for all, choose recovery.

I've thought about making a list of all of the things we talked about over the past 11 months - the places we went and the people we found there. The weights and secrets we uncovered and analyzed and processed and desensitized. The emails we exchanged and the nights  I spent crying on the Q train, scribbling furiously into my journal, unwilling to part with the glimpses of the person you helped me see I was capable of becoming. 

That list would take much longer than 90 minutes to compose. Even longer to read. It would be too long to make meaning of, too fragmented to piece together, yet somehow too whole to face at once.

I'm struggling with how to comprehend and process and reflect and say goodbye to all of those things. How to thank you for the hours you spent watching me, an endless roll of mascara-streaked tears running past my chin accumulating in the well of my clavicle, telling me it will be ok. I wish I could chart a map of our journey - something tangible - to take with me. To remember. To bear witness.

We exist separately for all but 45 minutes a week (90 in the early days) - a time which feels dramatically misaligned with the depth of my feelings about this goodbye.

I'm afraid of what will vanish - ashes to ashes, dust to dust - after our 90 minutes are up. That everything I've learned and changed for and cried about and worked on will be abandoned when I leave the office for the last time.

I'm afraid that in 90 minutes, I'll no longer be able to email you, to call you. To send you jumbles of words and phrases and salty uncontrollable tears ripe with fear and loneliness. That  my life will be ruled by the overwhelming desire to inhale, and then exhale, my very being. And that this is a burden I will have to shoulder alone. 

I'm judging myself as I write this - thinking of the way you raise your eyebrows, hyperbolically skeptical, at my predictable self hatred. It's as if the scariest part of my moving to Hong Kong is no the relocation itself, but the distance it places between us. The boundaries it sets. Their uncertainties and rigidities and the immeasurable extent to which they can be manipulated but not redrawn. The permanence of endings.

I crumple at the inevitability of the moment in which my current status - as a patient, as a New Yorker, as a recovered person - shifts tenses. The moment my present exists exists only as an article of the past. I am terrified of the moment (is it a switch that flips, something you fill out, maybe, a form?) where I can no longer rely on you - formulate decisions using my anticipation of your reaction as an incentive. 

I fear the tremendous uprooting of the soil on which I have planted this stage of my life. I worry that my departure (to be followed, symbolically and pragmatically, by yours) - the tremendous weight of it all -  will crack the foundation of this foreign and tenuous feeling that you've come to show me is recovery.