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By André Williams
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 André Williams
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Let's get right to it, shall we?" Dr. James asked as she sat down at her desk. "What brings you here to see me today?"
"Everything," I replied as I settled into the chair in front of her desk. "Everything in my life is just totally messed up."
"Everything," I replied as I stared off into Dr. James' fish tank. I was becoming hypnotized by her goldfish swimming around in their tank and I was trying to figure out if seeing a therapist was going to be a good idea after all. There has been so much pain, anger and confusion going on in my life that I wasn't sure that I could ever find the way to be at ease with it all.
"Sebastian," Dr. James began as she broke me out of my fish tank hypnosis. "This is our first session together and I am going to do my best to try and help you get to the root of your problems. My method is that we will always only speak on the things that you feel comfortable talking about. If there is ever a time that I ask you something that you don't feel comfortable speaking on or the topic of our discussion becomes too intense I would prefer that you just say 'I don't wish to talk about that' and I will try to redirect to the best of my ability ..."
I became fixated on Dr. Sydney James. When we first met I noticed she was wearing a knee-length gray pencil skirt that showed off a set of incredibly toned legs. Her ivory silk blouse seemed to hug her full breasts just right. My new therapist's face was clear and her skin sandpaper brown while her ears were adorned with small dangly diamond earrings. I also noticed an understated diamond engagement ring with a matching wedding band on her left hand so I figured that she was spoken for. Dr. James' hair was brushed back from her face and the sides were tucked behind her ears. The rest of her sleek, black mane fell down her back past her shoulder blades. Her hair reminded me of how Vanessa Williams, the singer, wore it when she had her album out for The Comfort Zone. I then picked up on a hint of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue perfume. Dr. James looked smart, classy and sexy, but not over the top; she was the kinda woman I'd hang out with, in my opinion, just by looking at her. She appeared to be in her mid to late thirties although I would never come right out and ask her what her real age was of course. I had wanted a woman therapist instead of a man because I knew that in general I had always felt more comfortable talking to a woman than a man. I was hoping that because Dr. James was Black that she wouldn't be overly judgmental towards me. She also reminded me of someone else and I couldn't figure out who it was.
"So where do we begin?" I asked as I finally stopped staring at Dr. James.
"You were saying that everything in your life is messed up. Let's start with the first thing that pops into your mind."
I looked up towards the ceiling and then let out a loud sigh. "I've been lonely and very anxious lately especially with what has been going on around me and in the world. I recently went through something really bad with my ex that I used to live with," I replied.
"Who was this person?"
"My ex," I replied in an annoyed tone and I could tell that my guard was still up.
"Did she break your heart?" Dr. James asked.
"He," I replied quickly as I made eye contact again with Dr. James. Her reaction would prove to me whether I should continue dealing with her or not.
"I see," Dr. James replied without appearing to look shocked at my revelation. She began scribbling something down on a notepad that was on top of her desk. It was at this moment that I realized she reminded me of Lynn Whitfield, the actress from the movie Eve's Bayou. Dr. James could pass for her daughter. "How long have you been dating men?"
"Like five years now," I replied.
"Do you date women as well?"
"Nope, sure don't. And there wasn't ever a time when I dated women either!" I let out a chuckle and Dr. James gave me a smile as if to say that was going to be her next question for me. Her smile warmed my heart and I finally relaxed.
"So how did he break your heart?" Dr. James asked in a soothing tone.
"In so many ways possible," I replied with a rolling of my eyes.
"How did he break your heart the last time?"
"He promised to never hurt me again and he did."
"How did he hurt you?"
"Can we come back to that another time?" I asked in an annoyed tone. I guess I'm not ready to deal with that part just yet.
"Not a problem." Dr. James shifted in her seat before changing directions of the session. "Does your family know about your sexuality?"
"Some do and some do not," I replied with a hint of attitude.
"Does that bother you?" Dr. James was good. She picked right up on it.
"It depends on who we're talking about," I replied matter-of-factly. "I don't know why my sexuality should be an issue for them. It's my life, right?"
"Have you ever been in a long term relationship with a man?" Dr. James asked without giving me an answer to my question.
"Kinda," I replied in a defeated tone.
"How long did it last?"
"It's hard to say. We were living together and acting like we were a couple but I didn't get the actual title until the last few months of us living together."
"And this was with the guy who broke your heart?" Dr. James asked.
"He's one of many."
"Oh. Are your parents active in your life?"
"Not really," I replied as I looked down at my legs. I saw a piece of black thread on my dark blue denim jeans. I picked it off and let the piece of thread fall to the floor without Dr. James noticing.
"Why is that?"
"My father has never been a part of my life and my mother is there but sometimes I choose to not have her in it."
"What makes you act that way towards your mother?"
"For starters, I was abused physically, mentally, and verbally by my step-father as a child and because my Mom was supposed to be my parent and protect me I sometimes blame her for letting that happen to me."
"Why sometimes?" Dr. James asked as she went back to scribbling notes down on her notepad.
Vivid images of the relationship I once had with my mother began flashing in my mind. I began to play with one of the ends of my cornrowed braids out of nervousness. "I've always felt love towards my mother so much so that at first I didn't feel like she was partly responsible for the abuse from my step-father but as I've gotten older I've changed my mind about that ..."
"Because I am more aware of how I was supposed to have been treated. How I was supposed to have been raised and loved."
"Have you told her how you feel?"
I hesitated to respond out of fear of Dr. James judging me or telling me that telling my mother was the answer to some of my problems. "No I have not," I replied. I could already tell what follow-up question Dr. James was going to ask so I beat her to the punch. "My mother doesn't get it. She thinks I should be over what happened when I was a little boy by now and I don't think I can ever be. Can we change the subject please?"
"Are you currently employed right now?" Dr. James asked without skipping a beat.
"Yes. I work as a store manager for a pharmacy down on Canal Street."
"Do you like your job?"
"Sometimes I do. I like who I work with above all. The job itself isn't all that fun."
"Why is that?"
I was beginning to become annoyed with her questions although I knew it was her job to ask them. "Because it's not what I really wanna do."
"What would you rather be doing?"
"I don't know," I replied as I looked down at the floor in embarrassment, as if I should already know what it is that I wanted to do in my life. "I moved to New York like three years ago and I've always been in management ever since I graduated from high school. I do it because I need to take care of myself. I don't want to rely on my family too much."
"Did you go to college?" Dr. James asked.
"No. I hate school. I guess that's one of the reasons why I might not truly enjoy what I do for work because we were taught in school that if you don't go to college and get an education that you will end up doing something pointless. Like working at McDonald's or doing what I do I guess. There was so much pressure in high school for us to 'know your dream and what you want to do' and I couldn't really focus on that. The kids and my step-father put me through hell while I was in school."
"Can we change the subject?"
"What brought you to New York?"
"I wanted to be closer to the gay lifestyle. At the time I didn't even know if one existed in Connecticut. That's where I'm from. And at one point I was in love with my first Kyle. He's one of the many guys who ended up breaking my heart."
"What didn't happen?" I replied as I let out a nervous laugh. "He took me on a serious rollercoaster that I just kept getting back on over and over again no matter how awful the ride had been for me the last time."
"Would you like to talk about that?" Dr. James asked. She must've realized that I had asked to change the subject many times during our first session already. Maybe she was just trying to figure out what wasn't off limits.
"How much time do I have left?" I replied.
"About 15 minutes," Dr. James said after looking at her watch.
"Maybe we can start with Kyle during my next session ..." I decided I might as well put it out there that I was actually planning on committing to seeing her again. "I don't want to start talking about him and then I can't really break into it like how I want to. I hate being interrupted!"
"That's fine," Dr. James replied. "If you can choose five points that you would like to talk about during our sessions what would they be?"
I sat there for a moment as I began to mull over exactly what was the most important things that I needed to get off of my chest. "Guys . . . Love, my family, being abused and my self-esteem," I replied.
Dr. James scribbled some more on her notepad before she looked up at me and gave me a reassuring smile.
"Sebastian, those sound like great topics for us to explore. I plan on doing my best to help you find some sort of resolution and peace with hopefully all of those topics. I just want you to keep in mind to have an open mind and to take as much time as you possibly can to talk with me. Let everything unfold as naturally as you can remember them happening to you. Sounds like a plan?" Dr. James said as she extended her hand to me.
"Yes," I replied as I extended my hand towards Dr. James and shook it. "I will do my best."
Chapter TwoI remember when I first heard Toni Braxton's Secrets album the summer it came out. It was 1996 and I was 18 years old. I had developed scoliosis while I was growing up as a kid since I grew so rapidly and I used to go to my chiropractor every other day for therapy sessions. I had the only crush on my chiropractor and I would always look forward to the days when I could feel his hands all over my neck and back. It was the closest thing I had to having a man touching my body while I was in high school without it being sexual although deep down inside I often wished it would turn into something like that. He was a very friendly man with a beautiful smile and I often used to giggle inside at the thought that he probably had absolutely no idea that I had a crush on him.
One day as I was having my session with him I heard Toni Braxton singing through the office speakers and my doctor and I began having a conversation about her. I had expressed to him about how much I had loved Toni Braxton and that I hadn't heard her new album as of yet. My doctor kept gushing over and over about how great the album was. When my session was over and I was at the receptionist desk making my next appointment my doctor walked over to me and handed me the Secrets CD. He told me to take a listen to it and that I could return it to him on my next visit the following week. That evening I played the CD on my computer while I doodled with my poetry and journal and for some reason I just couldn't get into the album at all. I had already loved the song "You're Makin' Me High" and as much as I loved R&B music and slow jams I just couldn't get into Toni's album upon first listen. Within a month's time my whole opinion on that album would end up changing.
Whenever I wasn't writing poetry, songs, and stories or playing solitaire on my computer I was taking full advantage of my newest infatuation: the internet. AOL had become my latest addiction and I was constantly logging on to go into the chat rooms as I spent many hours chatting with online "friends" a.k.a. complete strangers while hogging up my Grandmother's telephone line. I had recently begun conversing with this White gay guy who lived in New York and during one of our chats he told me about a section in the Village called Christopher Street. He said that Christopher Street was where many gay people went to walk up and down the street, hang out in the bars or hang out on the pier by the water. Immediately I was intrigued by this place for I had spent almost all of my high school years not being acquainted with any openly gay classmates or friends. I felt like Christopher Street was the place for someone like me. I had yearned to be able to just be myself, whoever the hell that was since I didn't even know at the time.
I had just gotten out of school for the day. I had already completed my first few days into my senior year of high school and already the hype of back to school had died down. I was chilling in my bedroom while no one else was at home. None of my friends from my neighborhood had gotten home yet from school and at the time I didn't have an after school job. I was trying to figure out a way to occupy my afternoon when suddenly I flashed back to the conversation that I had online about the Village. In one of our chats the dude told me how to get to Christopher Street and before I knew it I had jumped into my car, dipped to the gas station by the highway to fill up my tank and was on my way to New York City.
I was driving down the West Side Highway while I found myself taking in the Hudson River. I remember feeling excited at even just the thought of driving to New York by myself, let alone the thought that I was trying to find what I had heard as being some sort of "gay mecca" area to hang out at. I was trying to figure out where the hell Christopher Street was while being distracted by so many different buildings, both on the New York side and across the river on the New Jersey side. As I was keeping up with the flow of traffic I ended up noticing a street sign on my driver's side that said "Christopher Street" but I wasn't able to make the left turn because the highway had a median that separated both sides. I took the next left a few feet down and was able to find my way back to Christopher Street where I found parking a block away from it. My Village life would soon be born on this day.
I don't quite remember every detail about being in the Village such as the bars and restaurants because it was all so much to take in at that very moment. As the years went by though I would end up knowing every inch there was to know about Christopher Street, from top to bottom. I made my way down towards the pier and popped a squat down as I began to people watch from behind a pair of black shades. Soon after I began people watching I noticed a Black guy sitting near me with a book in his hand and it felt like he was checking me out instead of reading. Since it was my first time being in the Village I wasn't sure if everyone who was down there was in fact gay or if there were also straight people who roamed the area. The Black guy then saw a friend of his walking by and they ended up sitting next to each other as they held a conversation for what could've lasted between five to ten minutes. I soon became bored sitting there listening to their conversation and decided that I was no longer interested in finding out if the Black guy was in fact checking me out. As I stood up to leave the Black guy's friend introduced himself to me and then also introducing the guy that I had thought was checking me out. The Black guy's name was Kyle and as soon as I told Kyle what my name was his friend quickly excused himself and said goodbye. This left Kyle and I alone so that we could continue talking.
The conversation eventually moved from the Pier and back up the street to a restaurant called Manatus on Bleeker Street. It was a relatively small restaurant, or at least in my opinion it seemed like that compared to the restaurants that I've been to back in Connecticut. The lights inside were kept very dim throughout the restaurant and every table had a lit candle on it.
Excerpted from Intimate Thoughts by André Williams Copyright © 2013 by André Williams. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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