The doctor is in again

Published 10:06 pm Tuesday, March 18, 2014

By Rex Alphin

As she stepped into the office, I looked up from my desk and welcomed her with a handshake and smile, hoping to do my part to signal a place of safety and encouragement. She took a seat, maintaining a rigid, nervous posture, not at all uncommon in such settings.

As we talked, this petite, 40-something woman settled more fully into her chair, and her words moved from halting, stilted conversation to a more fluid manner, her animated eyes connecting with hands as she more sincerely elaborated on the occasion of her visit.

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“It’s probably nothing of consequence, really, but I felt some perspective, some outside input would be helpful. I mean, I am happily married, and have been for years. Don’t get me wrong — many of my friends are envious and would give the world to be in my position.

“They see this happy family with jobs and possessions and activities and stability. And we are happy! Don’t get me wrong — I don’t know what more a woman could ask for. And maybe that’s it — maybe it is too stable. Maybe it’s too predictable. I don’t know.

“Maybe that’s what’s feeding all this, I don’t know. But sometimes I yearn for something more, something risky or dangerous. Something not so safe. I don’t know.

“But …” She hesitated. “Back when I was young … there was this guy. First love stuff, know what I mean? I know, I was young. What did we know back then? But still … We went our separate ways. But still … I often wonder …”

For some uncanny reason, I started humming a song as I recorded her words in my notepad.

“… if things had worked out differently, if events had been otherwise, how things might have turned out. I know it is stupid of me, but something in me holds on to that time, that place, that person.”

Unbeknownst to me, my humming picked up volume as I tried to stay engaged.

“By the way” — she stopped her torrent of words, as one would halt a waterfall. I must admit, it caught me off guard — “what is that song?”

Startled at such a change in the subject matter, I looked up and caught myself.

“It’s a Jethro Tull song. 1969.”

“And the title?” she asked.

Embarrassed, but now quite conscious of my actions and inability to escape the predicament, I replied, “Living in the Past.”

Rex Alphin of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for the Suffolk News-Herald. His email address is rexalphin@aol.com.