"So why are you here La?"
The question seems absurd on some level, but I know she's not being an asshole. I curl up in a ball, my legs sinking into the comfy purple cushions of the chair. I gaze through the sheer gauze posing as window shadings down to the sparkling street below. The sky is gray. The earth is wet. No cars drive down the treelined street. I can't hear any of the ambient noise from below. The earth is still, if only for a moment.
"My hands," I say, and I'm trying to figure out how to complete the sentence because as much as I know I should have, I didn't anticipate even this simple question. "My hands have gotten too small... to carry... everything. I... I don't think I'm dealing well."
"That's terribly astute." I shrug, my eyes on a red bird in the tree limb closest to the window. "So, these things," she uses the finger quotes, "that you're carrying; is it that your hands are too small or that you're carrying too much?"
"Logically I would say I'm carrying too much, but me being me, I'd say my hands are too small."
"Hmm... that's interesting. Would you say you're a pefectionist?"
"Not so long as everything is in order." She laughs, and I like her laugh, full and round, genuine.
"We all feel that way don't we?" She gets up to pour tea from an old white kettle. "Would you like some?" I nod. "So what's out of order La?" I stifen instinctually.
"It's really not that bad-" She cuts me off with the lifting of her hand.
"There's no need for false bravery here. I'm guessing, just from the little conversation that we've had, that you're very adept at carrying way too much. Which is admirable, but not good for you. La I'm concerned with how much you carry around. My hope is to help you learn to differenciate between the things you need to carry and the things you are just used to carrying."
I'm silent when I take my tea from her, looking back out the window, curling myself up tighter. I'm aware of her observing me from her own chair across from me, quietly, patiently sipping her tea.
"Maybe that isn't the best question to begin with. Let me ask you this," she sips, long and drawn out, before giving me her kind eyes softened by wrinkles and smile lines, "how long have you been alone La?"
And I start to cry.
She's quiet, slowly sweeping me over, and for once I don't feel judged for my weakness. She is smiling at me, just slightly, but it's encouraging. She places her tea cup on the table beside me, brushes a silver stand of hair behind her ear and scoots her chair a little closer to me.
"Let's talk about your life La."