When Stories About Him Are All You Have Left

Silvia Sala
Silvia Sala

Therapy is sort of weird. The very nature of it can sometimes cause you to forget you aren’t speaking to a girlfriend, sipping Cosmos at some neon-lit rooftop bar (not that I’ve actually ever been to a roof top bar, but if I did, you can damn sure bet I’d order a Cosmo). You just start talking. And sometimes, you can’t even stop.

The first time I talked to my therapist about Aidan, she actually stopped me after about 45 minutes to let me know we only had 15 minutes left, and if there was anything else I wanted to discuss before wrapping up. I scoffed a little, half irritated and half embarrassed she had interrupted my one-woman monologue on a man who had never even slept a full night at my place. I had some incurable verbal diarrhea when it came to talking about Aidan. I hated it. No version of diarrhea is enjoyable, but at least the bodily kind didn’t leave me feeling like some school girl cliche.

I met Aidan in a frozen yogurt shop. I was in the habit of hate-eating half a cup of chocolate and vanilla swirl each day after work. I was working retail a few doors down and so low that some days, I wished I had enough energy to even feel suicidal. I was tapped out, emotionally and mentally. Some customer would have complained that I didn’t ring them up fast enough or my borderline inappropriate boss would tell me I looked nice when I put a little effort into my appearance, and after clocking out, I’d stumble in a pissed-off daze into my safe haven.

I even became somewhat chummy with the girl who rang up my $4.15 weight of frozen delight each day. Her name was Rachel, and like the rest of us, hated her job too. We joked once about trading, but I knew she couldn’t last one day in my store. Rachel was usually on her phone when I walked in, and stopped even trying to hide it after my 7th time in. I envied her a little bit. She could binge on Frozen Yogurt and lurk on Facebook for 8 hours. She was living my minimum wage dream.

One night, after a particularly hellish shift, I marched in to see a scruffy, drunken stranger flirting it up with Rachel. I immediately felt annoyed because I thought of Rachel as my comrade in misery, and the giggling and general enjoyment she was emanating was ruining that image. Rachel looked up at me as I loudly shuffled my way over to the self-serve station, and I shot her back a look that I hope said, “I’m irrationally mad at you. Stop laughing, you selfish wench.” She smiled at me, and then shifted her attention back to the man, so I’m not sure she got the message.

I zoned out at the topping bar and must have been staring at the gummy bears for so long, the man had abandoned Rachel and was now turned to me.

“It’s a huge decision, so I really want you to take your time and not rush things, okay?” He smiled. I blushed, something I almost never did.

“Sorry, I must have spaced out. Long day,” I responded, placing my cup on the weight machine. Rachel was quiet now. I wondered if she now felt mad at me. I handed her the usual $4.15 and walked over to my favorite table in the back of the shop. Drunk Dude followed me over.

“Solo trips in here are usually pretty indicative of long days,” he said as he pulled up a chair next to me.

I was taken aback by his audacity to just invite himself to my table. This was my alone time. My I hate my job and I hate my boss and I hate everyone around me time. My time to mope about all the life choices that had lead me to this exact moment: eating frozen yogurt alone with Rachel texting behind the counter. This was sacred time and I wasn’t interested in some tipsy Romeo psychoanalyzing my solitary presence in FroYo Forever.

Yeah, solo trips. Just love that word: solo,” I hinted, mixing together the chocolate and vanilla in my cup with my plastic spoon. I looked up at him and blushed again.

He was cute, in a bearded dude who does open mics kind of way. He was wearing a blindingly bright blue sweatshirt with some sports logo. A cougar or panther or wildcat. He had dimples poking out beneath the scruff and a warmth to his eyes I didn’t exactly hate. The more I looked at him, the more handsome I realized he actually was. Like Orlando Bloom’s grungy brother. I liked it.

And soon, I liked him.

I used to replay this night to my therapist, and she would always nod, a simple indication she was listening. God, she’s so sick of hearing about him, isn’t she? I would stress myself over it. I didn’t want to be that girl. I was sick of being that girl. But I couldn’t help myself. If I couldn’t tell Aidan how I felt, this was going to be the next best thing.

Therapy is weird when you realize it’s full of secrets, words, hopes you so badly want to share with someone, but your mouth clamps shut in front of the person you need to tell the most.

She knew so much of Aidan. That meeting. The walls I let down. The broken promises. The texts. The texts we both regretted. The back and forth, seesaw that I never wanted to be on. I tell myself somewhere Aidan has a therapist too. And he tells her of the girl he met at the wrong time.

I guess we could just never get our clocks to match up. And suddenly, before I know it, 60 minutes will be up and my therapist will tell me the session is over. TC mark

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Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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