I walked from 46th and Madison to my apartment on 95th and 2nd this evening, a walk that took just slightly over an hour. It has been a long time since I have taken a long walk through Manhattan. Twelve blocks in I started to feel violently nauseous. I glanced at the subway station I was about to pass knowing that I would not last two minutes in the stale, dirty air below. I cast a sidelong glance at the cabs speeding north, toward my destination, but knew I would become carsick long before we reached 95th Street. Memories of being carsick as a child flashed into my head. The blue Dodge Caravan of my childhood pulling over on the side of winding mountain roads so I could puke. Everything made me motion sick as a child, cars, boats, trains, rides at amusement parks, a nausea that started deep and low in my belly. I am feeling that sensation in my body now. I keep walking, scared to stop. I finally pause at the wine store across the street from my apartment building. I pick up a bottle of Prosecco knowing full well this is a maladaptive coping skill. The bubbles will calm my stomach and the alcohol will quiet whatever feelings are trying to emerge. I simply do not want to deal with what lies below the surface tonight.
The walk originated at the Roosevelt Hotel where my friend and I attended a panel called, “The Analyst Engages Creative Writing and Memoir” at the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy Conference. The discussant leads a weekly writing group my friend is part of. The two papers presented were beautiful, touching, disturbing, sad, humorous, and thought provoking, as all lives are, in very different ways. The voices of these women were clear, defined, unique, what I strive to be in my writing but fear I fall far short of on a regular basis. They candidly reached into their pasts, something I have been grappling with lately. Do I want to reach into my past and bring it into my writing of the present? Over the last two years I have had snapshots of childhood memories come to me in what feel like arbitrary moments. These memories start as physical sensations that I am slowly able to name as specific feelings, images of what my body is recalling then come to me. In a flash I have felt and seen a childhood memory that then slips away, leaving me feeling haunted by a past that I perhaps do not reflect upon enough these days.