At a recent lecture given by Jennifer Egan, the 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner in fiction, Jacob Weisberg asked Egan to whom she had dedicated her award winning novel. Egan paused, glanced around the room, and then whispered, “Ok, this is New York… my therapist.” Chris M— the mysterious name listed in the opening to A Visit from the Goon Squad— is her life long therapist.
Not surprisingly, the audience applauded. Egan’s admission was honest, and in a city that breeds a certain degree of superficiality, that was refreshing. It also fell in line with several New York cliches, including the infamous everyone-has-a-therapist one. And yet, as I sat there, applauding with fellow lit nerds, I thought how hypocritical of me to praise Egan for this, when I, in fact, was quite wary of over priced psychology.
But in her admission I also found strength, or maybe just a hint of inspiration. Enough to propel to make a move that 22 years of living had not yet done for me– to move past the stigma I associated with therapy: that anyone who has a therapist is broken in some irreparable way. I mean here was a woman who had a Pulitzer, a husband, and a brownstone in Brooklyn. She was living my dream, or at least a dream closely aligned with my own. And she didn’t seem particularly dark and twisty and Tim Burton character-esque.
And so I made a few calls, shopped around for about a week, and finally settled on a West Coast native whose most notable feature is her lack of shoes. In true Berkeley fashion, she conducts entire sessions free of “those foot shackles,” as she so notably refers to them. I suppose she is a bit of special snowflake herself, but perhaps that is why I find myself so wholly trusting her. She has quirks, and as anyone who has spent five minutes with me knows, so. do. I.
Together she and I are beginning to unravel the history of a 20something on the verge of her 23rd birthday. It’s exhilarating and darn right terrifying. Get ready for the ride.