Friday, April 10, 2009

Self Respect from the Botanica.

photo credit

I broke up with my shrink on Thursday. I really liked her and we spent an undulating near-year digging through my hideous history for blind spots and patterns, victims and villains. We diligently found all these together and while I felt that my time with Joan, a patient and well-dressed woman in a lovely flat (decked in Victorian decor) on the upper-upper West Side, was productive, I was tired of feeling depressed. It is spring! I wanted to take a break from all the sad and ugly. Besides, I reasoned, I spend enough time in the past working on this book. No sense in these financially turbulent times to be redundant, right?

On the way home, I stopped to visit a friend who suffered an aneurism last week and is now laid up in Long Island College Hospital. I placed a couple of hyacinths on his bedside table and tried to read some short stories to him as he nodded in and out of consciousness, first breathing heavy in the stale, suspect hospital air, then delivering quiet, half sentences to no one in particular.

From the B61 bus on my ride back down Columbia Street, I looked out the window at a row of plaster saints and Marys staring patiently at me from the window of a local Botanica. Their soft eyes beckoned through two panes of glass. That's what I need, I thought. Some faith.

So what if it is faith in myself I needed to stock up on?

Do you have anything for self-respect, I asked the clerk, a small Mexican man of a certain age, in a grey T-shirt and jeans. He paused and looked around the metal and glass shelves filling the corner shop. Tiny bottles in incense stood in neat rows in the back, the sun coming in the windows was perforated with the shapes of the poised saints.

No, he finally said with hesitation, But I do have something for luck.

So, his reasoning went, if I had maybe some little bit of good luck then I would feel more self-respect? Not bad. Better than the promise of endless depressing weeks at 45 minutes and $70 increments with Joan. I was ready to give up my depression, shake it off for spring flowers or a wild fling or - trade up for some hope and devotion at the Botanica. No more past for me; I was coming back to the present and looking on the future.

I walked out with one horseshoe (with straw and horse shit still deep in the grooves); seven good luck candles from around the world, including a good luck Buddha, a good luck Congo, and the Fast Luck green candle which is burning in the corner as I write. I also got myself two plaster saints: Saint Barbara, with her sword and chalice and little tower. If her breasts and head could be cut off and she could still go on, well that has to be potent vibes for me to spend time with. And Saint Lucia, her two eyes on a plate before her like a waiter with hors d'oeuvres.

My plan is to burn all the candles, one at a time, until the last candle sputters out, with the hope that by then something good has come 'round my way. I'll leave the shit on the horseshoe, to fertilize the good luck. The saints? They're behind my desk chair, watching my back, sword and hors d'oeuvres ready to seduce or slice up anything that comes at me with ill will.