I sit in the corner at Parco and chat with whoever comes in who is willing. Often, as I'm chatting, other people will be compelled to pipe in and there grows a full-blown salon, homegrown, right in the tiny cafe with its pictureless gold gilt frames.
The other day, I began talking to a woman I know, a fellow mother, about the difficulty I have trying to help my little one, Oscar, navigate his need for physical and emotional contact while staying on the right side of the rules.
"The teacher talked to me after the second day of kindergarten, concerned, that Oscar was hugging all the girls. It didn't bother her, she said, but she was worried that the other mothers would complain..." I said, still struck by this two years after the fact. "Funny, none of the mothers did complain. They all wanted playdates. But still... Should I have told him not to hug?"
Another woman next to me, at the little high counter, nodded. "I had the same thing with my son," she said understandingly.
We began talking at length about the need for kids--and adults--to express themselves, and the difficulty of doing so openly and still functioning politely in society. I told her of my recent article openly discussing my mid-life dissillusionment and the outrage at my disclosure that divorce is on the table among a whole host of other options.
She shared with me some of her own personal details openly and was very calm and rational about issues I find often send other people packing.
"What do you do?" I asked suspiciously. She laughed.
"I am a marriage and family therapist."
How did I know? I introduced myself and took her card. Michelle Sheridan-Milovanski, Peace of Mind Counseling. "When you're ready for a change," her card offers. Parco always delivers.
While some therapists stay quiet, Michelle struck me as a real straight shooter.
"I talk about all the crap and name it," she said. In her practice and with her own family, she offered, she has a "willingness to look at the real human condition."
I gave Michelle a gold star and she boldly placed it on her cheek. Clearly, she is brave, an important attribute in anyone who sits where she does, in a position of power, helping people with the difficult process of naming what they might want and maybe even having the guts to go for it.