What should I be doing instead of this?
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Made in Japan

By Larry Gross · July 30th, 2008 · Living Out Loud
When I got up that morning, a Sunday, I remembered it was her birthday. I tried to dismiss the thought. We were no longer what you'd consider friends.

Thoughts of her stayed on my mind throughout most of the week. Now it was late Friday morning and, while getting ready for my therapy session, I thought of her again.

I thought of those times when she said she'd call or times when we were supposed to get together for coffee or for lunch or dinner and how most of those times she would cancel on me.

Things change, I guess. In my mind, she no longer had time for me.

Maybe this was something I should have brought up at my therapy session, but there's only so much one can say in an hour.

My doctor, whom I hadn't seen in two weeks, was just back from Japan. As promised, he brought me back an ink pen made there.

He told me in our last session before he left that the best ink pens are made in Japan and he always gets several when he visits.

As I tested the pen out, I started to believe him.

The writing, the way the ink flowed from the pen, was quite smooth. There was very little bearing down on the paper.

On that paper, while testing the pen, I wrote my former friend's name.

The therapy session went by quickly. What's said in that room stays in that room.

I will say, however, I've been suffering from depression and I need a little bit of help right now. My therapist says I just need a "fine tuning" and should be fine.

During the therapy session, my cell phone rang.

I turned it off quickly without seeing who was calling. When the session ended, I checked my voice mail.

It was a writer friend wanting to get together for drinks later in the afternoon. As he rattled off his new office number, I found a piece of paper in my back pocket and wrote down the number with my new pen from Japan. The writing was smooth and easy.

My therapist's office is in Clifton. When I got on a bus to go back downtown, I called my writer friend to ask him to pick me up in front of the Garfield Garage on West Ninth Street around 3 p.m.

I had enough time to grab a late lunch. After getting downtown, I walked to The Sports Page on Vine Street and had a taco salad. The lettuce was iceberg -- disappointing, of course, but expected here in Cincinnati.

As a writer, I always carry a notebook with me in case I see something interesting in my travels or have a thought in my head I want to write down. I had both that afternoon.

While eating my salad of watery iceberg lettuce, I pulled my notebook from my bag and used my new pen to jot down some thoughts and something funny that had happened on the bus.

As I wrote, I noticed that the pen's ink was blue. I remembered telling my therapist it was my favorite color of ink to write with. I was pleased he remembered.

My friend picked me up at 3. I couldn't help but notice the squeaking brakes on his car that were even squeakier than the last time, and just like with the previous car he'd owned I wondered when the hell he was going to get the brakes fixed.

We went over to a favorite pub in Covington. It had been a few weeks since we'd seen one another, and we had some catching up to do.

Over mixed drinks, we talked about the current women in our lives (love is hell), writing projects we were working on (editors are bastards) and life in general (it's better than being dead).

We both know the person who's my former friend, and toward the end of our drinking session he reported some news to me.

He'd heard that she had just gotten out of the hospital but was doing fine. He didn't know what had happened to her -- if she had been seriously ill or what -- just that she was now home.

After our get-together, my friend took me home. I could still hear the squeaking brakes on his car, but my mind was now on something else: this person who used to be my friend.

When I got home, I was hungry. I prepared myself another salad, this time with romaine lettuce. I also put some grilled chicken on top.

While eating, I thought of the day's therapy session and the fact that I'm getting better. I also again thought of my former friend and began to wonder if the depression I was suffering from made me close a door I shouldn't have.

No doubt, that would be a topic for next week with my doctor. Something to figure out.

In the meantime, I thought I could write her a letter, try it on for size to see how it feels.

I'm still working on that letter, wanting to choose my words carefully and thoughtfully. Maybe I've been too hard on someone I clearly still care about.

I'm writing the letter using that new pen made in Japan for luck. I'm hoping to let the easy feel and flow of that pen mentally and emotionally rub off on me.

Contact Larry Gross: lgross@citybeat.com



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