I walk out towards the balcony of the condo and look out into the California scenery in the morning. The mornings were the best time to be outside; it wasn’t too hot yet and the streets weren’t crowded with people and cars traveling in the city. California was a lot different than New York City, but not too different.
Whenever I think of New York, I think of Ari and remember just how much I miss her. I couldn’t help but call her on this warm morning, although she will probably hate me for calling her before noon.
“Bitch, it’s 10AM here, what the fuck are you calling me at 7AM?” Ari answers the phone right away. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and smile. Same bitch named Ari.
“Well good morning to you too, Ari,” I said back. Ari sighs on the phone and wrestles around. She was most likely still in bed.
“Morning, Grace. What’s up?” Ari finally responded as I heard her possibly rolling in between her bedsheets.
“Nothing much, just on the balcony before I go and, you know…”
“Grace,” Ari began. “Saying the word “therapy” isn’t a sin. You’ve been going for almost a year now; why are you still so weird about it?” Ari was right. I’ve been going to therapy for about a year now, yet it was still something I only told Ari about.
Ari was the one that drove me to my first session when I was still in New York. I can still vividly remember her using the spare key for my apartment and dragging me out of my bed and into her car to go for my appointment. I was pissed at her in the moment when she did that, but I also am thankful she did. Because of that, I’ve been quite serious about going to my appointments on time and having them frequently. I guess it’s still something so personal that I wouldn’t want anyone to know.
I walked back in from the balcony and into my room to start getting ready for the day.
“I don’t know, I just am I guess…” I answered. I put my phone on speaker and placed it on my nightstand before walking towards the closet.
“Well, tons of people go for therapy, and if it’s helping you keep your shit together, then it’s a good thing,” Ari preached. I rolled my eyes and smiled at her words. I take out a dress from my closet and place it on the bed.
“Enough about me though,” I said, changing the subject. “Are you and Dean going to do some wine-tasting today?”
“You fucking bet we are! We are so pumped. I might be more excited to do this than go shopping for the wedding dress,” Ari answered. Ari and Dean got engaged a couple of days before I left the city. I was supposed to tell Ari that day I was leaving New York but I didn’t want to ruin her moment or her engagement day. I feel bad not being able to be there with her as she preps for her big day, but she knows I’m always here for her in spirit… and on Facetime whenever she’s indecisive about something.
I walk over to my nightstand to grab my keys and my wallet from the drawer, and I’m instantly reminded of the piece of paper that I put in there a couple of nights ago. Jamie’s number. I take it out and read the digits on the paper and Jamie’s name underneath it.
“Whenever you’re ready.”
“Hello? Grace?” Ari called for me on the phone. I snapped out of my thoughts and focused my attention back on my phone.
“Yeah, sorry; what was that?” I asked. I dropped the piece of paper on th nightstand and grabbed what I needed instead.
“I said I’ll talk to you later; since I’m up I might as well make breakfast for Dean and I,” Ari said. We both said ou goodbyes and ended the phone call. I took a deep breath and walked out of my room.
I passed by Skylar in the living room, hoping I could walk out without her stopping me to help her find something but yet again, SKy got me where she needed me.
“Oh! Grace!” Skylar stopped me in my tracks.
“Sky, I really have to get going, I’m a little busy today–“
“Can I please borrow your sunglasses for the beach today?” Skylar asked. I sighed, knowing this isn’t the first time Skylar has asked to borrow something of mine.
“Don’t you have your own pair?” I asked.
“I have to go get them fixed, some guy stepped on them the last time I went to beach… he was cute, I should’ve gotten his number…” I rolled my eyes and sighed even louder. Sky was such a horny 20-something year old at times; I can’t believe that I was once also in my 20’s doing the same thing.
“Whatever Sky, they’re in my nightstand drawer; don’t lose or break these!” I warned her. Sky sucked her teeth and began walking towards my room. I used the opportunity to book it towards the front door.
“So how has your week been, Grace?” Chelsea asked me. Chelsea is my therapist that I started to see once I came to Cali. Chelsea and my therapist in New York actually know each other, so when I told my old therapist I was moving to California and didn’t know what to do regards to staying in therapy, she recommended me see Chelsea. I understand why; Chelsea was someone that allowed you to speak when you needed to speak about things, but she also would tell me when it was time to stop messing around and be honest with what was going on.
I sat across from Chelsea with my legs crossed on the cushioned chair. I took a deep breath before starting.
“The week has been alright. Work at the cafe has been the same and Sharon is still uptight most of my shifts…” I recapped the week.
“Has things at home with Skylar improved?”
“Yeah, for the most part” I begin to answer. “She seems to be more aware about our space and treating it with respect… she tries to not have any guys over when I’m there since the condo is pretty small.” Chelsea nodded her head and continued typing on her computer. I looked out her office window to see the sun peaking in through the shades.
“Come on,” I whined as I covered my head with the comforter. His laugh echoed in the bedroom.
“Jagiya, you have to get up! We have plans for the day,” Jamie said as he sat on the side of the bed I was in. I took the covers off of my face and saw him. He had his gentle smile on, and the sun coming in from the window was making him glow.
“Can’t we just postpone them?” I asked, still quite sleepy. Jamie sighed and then lifted the covers off of me. Before I went to grab them back, he gets into the bed and under the covers with me. I was confused. He looked at me and smiled.
“Fine, we can stay in bed for another hour, but then we absolutely have to get ready, okay?” he said. I smiled at him and cuddled in his chest.
“Something on your mind, Grace?” Chelsea said. I look back at her, realizing I wasn’t paying attention to what she was saying.
“No, no; I’m alright–“
“Grace,” Chelsea stopped typing. “You’re typically more proactive in our meetings, but today you seem to be a little distant mentally. Is there something you want to talk about?” I hate how right Chelsea could be at times. I haven’t been this absent in a session since–
“Jamie,” I said without context. Chelsea raised an eyebrow.
“Jamie? Your ex-boyfriend from South Korea?”
“Jamie’s in California, and I don’t know how to feel about that,” I admitted. “He showed up at my job one night and–“
“Did anyone tell him you were now living here?” Chelsea interrupted before I continued. I shook my head no.
“He seemed just as surprised to see me at the cafe as well… we didn’t speak for long since he had to get going and, well, Sharon being a bitch, but…” I had to rethink that night in my head again. Maybe I was happy he somewhat found me here in Cali, but a part of me wishes I was still hidden in my own universe.
“How did you feel seeing him for the first time in a really long time?” Chelsea asked. I looked at her, not really knowing how to answer her. How did I feel finally seeing him after so long?
“The dreams came back. I’m not really sleeping that well because of it,” I said. Chelsea nodded her head, finally typing on her computer again. She stops for a moment and then looks directly at me.
“You’ve made so much progress within these last couple of months. You’ve been going to the AA meetings I spoke to you about, you’ve been following up with your medication and appointments well, and I have to say: you haven’t brought up your ex-boyfriend in a session for quite some time now.” I knew Chelsea was talking to me more than just my therapist at this point. She was talking to me as the person who saw me probably at my lowest. She was the person who I had on call when I relapsed and was hospitalized a couple of weeks into living here. She was the person that would make sure I checked in with her when I was trying to get back on my feet. I know this portion of our therapy session was more personal than the other things we spoke about. “Grace, you have to do what’s right for you. From what I know, Jamie brings back a lot of negative memories from your past, and it’s easy to get caught up in that once more now that you know he’s in California. If you got the closure you needed already, then he is just another human being in the same state. You don’t have to get closure if you were already in the process of getting it on your own.”
I leaned back on the chair and sighed. I know I was doing a lot better knowing that Jamie didn’t know where I was and that I didn’t know where he was either. Jamie represents my old life, the one that nearly destroyed me inside and out.
“Also,” Chelsea continued. I looked back at her, wondering what she was going to say next. “You have Willow to think about. She’s getting bigger, and she’s going to need her mother to be in a good mental space to help her get through her childhood smoothly.”
Willow. I couldn’t help but begin tearing up when I heard her name. The fact of the matter is is that my relationship with WIllow has improved so much since I started therapy and since I started to leave my old life behind me. It still kills me that I wasn’t able to be in New York when she started her first day of pre-school earlier this year, but I made sure I’ve been there for her if she ever needed me. I was always just a phone call away.
“Yeah,” I simply said. I knew that if i wanted to contact Jamie again, I would’ve done so by now. Maybe my soul already was telling me it wasn’t the smartest thing to do. I have to go and throw his number out when I get home.
But I guess Skylar already did when she got my sunglasses from the nightstand earlier. Better he than me, I guess.