Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Mystery Begins: The Captain's House

Let;s go back about 17 or 16 years ago, before I started writing, back when I was a fabulously skinny, miserable, miserable person. Ask anyone who knew me. I was happy when I was teaching, but the rest of the time I was busy starving myself and being hungry and cranky.

 This had been going on for years and I was deep in therapy to find some sort of root to the problem and pull it out.   After three years of going in circles of getting a little better, a little better, disappearing and showing up a lot worse then getting a little better, a little better over and over my therapist asked if she could try something new.  I was ready for anything, even an exorcism.

Instead of our usual talking and talking she had me lay on a fat white cloud of a recliner, turned on a noise canceling sound machine and walked me down the  path of guided progressive relaxation.

My was mind was finally quiet she let me stay there awhile and then asked me to (in my head) go to an important place, a place I could find answers.

She said to look for a hallway, maybe one with doors.

My conscious mind told me this was all symbolism for the demons that I keep behind closed doors.

I let the thought go by and did as she asked.

I found myself standing alone on a very familiar ledge-like balcony of a gray rock-lined wall, warm sea breeze in my face.

"Where are you?" She asked.

"I guess this is the hallway," I answered, and laughed in a voice freer than I had ever heard from myself.

After scratching something on paper she continued, "Good, good, are there doors?"

I kept my face toward the water, toward the wind and answered in a bright happy voice looking,  "Yes there are doors here, who lives without doors?"

"Good, good, can you go in one of them?"

"Of course not, no" I said, then added very brightly and without thinking, "Are you trying to get me in trouble?"

My therapist. laughed.

More scratching of the pencil. Another question. "Is there anything written on the doors?"

"Yes, yes," I answer, again from my heart, not from looking around at what I knew to be heavy tall wooden doors that squeaked and croaked and banged on their hinges on windy days.

"Read it says on the doors to me."

I exhaled like I'd been kicked in the stomach. "I can't read."

She repeats back to me, "You can't read."

This  statement flows through the room between us.

In reality I had just finished my PhD. The idea me saying I can't read is ridiculous; I can't even imagine (at least I'd never tried to imagine) a life not being able to read, to write, to tell stories. It sounds like a life in prison.

"Do you want to read?" she asks and I answer quickly and dismissively "Yes."

She pressed me again, "What's behind the doors?"

I shrugged and smiled then looked back at the sea to stare at a view that felt like an immense, invisible, familiar scar.

She poked at my silence. "Do you know what's behind the doors?"

I nodded.

"Can you tell me?"

I shrug again and keep looking away from whatever or whoever was behind those doors now, searching the horizon.

Something like grief comes up from my toes and I want to run.

I know whose doors those are, and I've been behind them, but I don't live here.

"He's coming back."
The grief that haunts the room tells me  that we really did stop here for a reason.

 Where "here" was I couldn't tell you.

I don't know if I believe in past lives or if this was a Jungian memory or something from my then- under-used-imagination.

I can't remember his name. I wish I could remember his name, but I can't and I can't even admit not knowing it but I would recognize it. The word "captain" crosses my mind and I keep it to myself.

Finally she tells me to describe what I am able to see, and that comes easily.

A very pebbly area where the shallow green blue water hits the land.

A path of rocks bleached by the sun.

Tall doors, iron work.

Where I'm standing is usually shady, most of the day.

I hear the pencil scratching again, and sit in the quiet of being there, just there where something felt very familiar.

Our time ran out before we could explore more that day.  She counted me backwards, up into the cold bright room, unable to explain what I had just experienced.

When I  was roused enough to try to quiz her (as I picked up my purse and diet coke) about what had just happened she only answered, "It's a mystery."

The next week when my appointment came I raced back into the chair, ready to see where it would take me next.