She’s scanning her notes from last week, her long raven hair dropping forward like a silky soft drape. I love long hair on younger women. Some older women can pull off this accouterment, but not all. With my new shrink, her hair is a frame for a perfect face of milky pale skin. I’m glad she didn’t dye it blond to match her complexion. She’s gorgeous just the way she is.
Her eyes raise to meet mine, which reminds me of what I need to discuss. I don’t wait for her opening sentence. I blurt mine first. “Haley won’t be my friend. And I know this sounds like the forth grade, but that’s the way I feel about it; crushed.”
My lady therapist writes the word ‘Haley’, then says, “We never lose those emotions, Irv. We build on them and hopefully learn to understand them.”
“I do, but after meeting Haley, I want what I’ve lost even more.”
“And that is..?”
“My sister. I want my sister back. It’s just the two of us, and Rachel’s four years younger, struggling with her life in a million ways. Five, six years ago she pulled way from me. Won’t even answer my emails or calls now.”
“That happens with depression. People seek isolation.”
“I know, but when we stumble into each other at family events Rachel pretends we’re still tight like we used to be. She tells me about the bad stuff when I ask her, and we crack jokes like we did years ago. But then, when I go east and she goes west, I’m again a zero in her life.”
I sigh. “I miss my sister.”
“I can understand that.”
“I lost my wife too. A year ago. Dana had cancer.”
“Would you like to talk about Dana?”
“Not really. I want to talk about Haley.”
My shrink puts pen to pad and asks, “How did you meet her?”
I start my story. “A movie producer I’ve worked for called to see if I could help a young woman from Florida find a job. It was a family favor thing. The producer’s father was friends with the girl’s grandfather. Favors are good so I agreed to meet the young lady.”
“I invited her to the lot and introduced her to my friends in the front office. They could recommend her to HR if they liked her. I watched the impromptu interviews. Haley was charming, witty and smart, and she reminded me of my sister Rachel when she was also twenty-six; and single, and still popping with verve before it washed away.”
My therapist nods, which means I should continue. I do that.
“After the meetings I invited Haley to lunch in the commissary. We talked about possible job and that a vice president of the studio, a man I’m friendly with, was out of town. Three words from that man could put Haley at the front of the cue for studio openings. I wanted Haley to meet him and we made plans for the following week when Mr. Vice Pres would be back.”
“Okay…” my psychologist says, jotting down more notes. I wait, then continue.
“For those seven days, I thought about Haley a lot. For the first time since Dana died, I felt like there was a reason to wake up and get out of bed. I felt so relaxed with Haley, so spontaneous, I thought maybe we could start a friendship.”
“Just a friendship?” my therapist asks.
“A friendship,” I declare. “Yes, she’s pretty. But she’s taller than me and lanky. Not my type. Really. To me, Haley’s like a younger sister.”
“Did you meet again?” asks my therapist, adjusting her glasses.
“Yeah, as planned. I introduced her to the V.P. and as before, she was charming and entertaining. He was impressed, but I knew he would be, and he said he’d do his best to get her into the system. As we walked out, Haley invited me to lunch. That was classy.”
“I picked a Thai place off the lot. We ordered wine and ribs and talked about everything. Even sex, or lack of. Hers, not mine. She brought it up when she told me about her boyfriend break up eight months ago in Tampa.”
“So you were feeling intimate with her.”
“Yeah. But like I said, in a brother/sister way. And I was also feeling happy and I wanted more of that. I liked hanging out with her and having a window into her life. As a writer, the idea of getting to know a twenty-six year old would help me understand what’s going on in a twenty-something world. Would it be different from my own when I was her age? I wanted to find out. But most of all, I just wanted to laugh again. Haley helped me with that.”
“I don’t know. Some switch turned off. A week later I shot her an email inviting her out for coffee. She couldn’t find the time. I knew what that meant. I tried again. Same thing. Arranging another get-together was impossible.”
“How did you feel about that?”
“I felt used. But then I thought, maybe she felt I was trying to use her, that I wanted sex. So I wrote her another email and explained I didn’t. And I told her about the falling out with my sister.”
“Did Haley respond?”
“She wrote that she never considered anything I did or said inappropriate and that she knew my intentions of helping her were genuine.”
“And what did you say?”
“I wrote her back saying I’d like to see her again when her schedule opened up. It never did…for me.”
“And her employment?”
“Nothing happened at the studio. But I don’t think she followed through on that. I heard just yesterday she found a job at a community college.”
I drop my head disparagingly, staring at the floor.
“Do you want to tell me what you’re feeling now?”
I glance up at the woman in the chair, her dark eyes now locked onto mine. What am I feeling now? I’m craving a tender kiss and hug from my pretty therapist. But what I say is, “I’m discouraged. Last week I told you I can’t trust half the people I meet because they’re not open and honest. And here I was, being open and honest with Haley, and it didn’t make a difference. She still didn’t believe me.”
“Maybe she sensed your needs and didn’t want the responsibility.”
“You mean, adult baggage?”
“Would you, if you were her age? How many adult friends did you have at twenty-six?”
Good question. I think about it and admit, “None. But when I was thirty-two, I met Richard, an older man TV star. We hit it off and he wanted to meet for coffee sometime.”
“Where did that go?”
“I told Dana about it. She didn’t have an opinion. I also told my parents. My dad asked, ‘Why would an aging actor want to get together with YOU?’”
“And I said, ‘Because I’m interesting.’”
“And Dad said, ‘Irv, don’t be naive. He’s gay.’”
“Did you believe that?” my shrink asks.
“I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t want to take a chance. So I never called him. Then, four years ago, I was talking to my friend Jerry who was a TV camera man, and I told him about Richard’s coffee invitation. And Jerry said, ‘Richard’s not gay at all. I was friends with him and his wife.’”
“So you understand Haley’s apprehension. She didn’t know you.”
“Yeah… And I also realize the young don’t share their youth with the old.”
“True,” my shrink states. “A fervent spirit… You have to hold it close all through the journey. Only then can you give it out instead of wanting it back.”
‘Wow,’ I’m thinking, as her eyes drop to her pad. She’s deep. I could love someone like her.
Originally published on Curiosityquills.com.
photo from Dreamstime