Two Years in New York (Michael Mohr's "fictional memoir" chapter 11)
NYC Covid Memoir Chapter 11
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Between October 13th, when Sophia flew out to Europe, and January 21st, 2020, which ended up being the next time I actually saw her in real life, my existence became to a certain degree chaotic. I hadn’t seen Sophia again before she left, as I’d expected. We’d texted little, because the last evening we’d had had been magical. I did wish her a safe flight, and she did let me know when she landed safely in Berlin. We were using WhatsApp.
Deepening into fall, the temperature dipped again in Manhattan. I wore usually two shirts, a hoodie, and my red REI insulated jacket over it all, with my father’s old blue-and-gray U.C. Berkeley beanie I’d snatched years ago. (It was big and thick and warm.) My mom and I texted maybe half a dozen times over the period of a month. My dad and I rarely spoke or texted. Only when we had to discuss something serious or important—usually finances—would we get on the phone, email, or text.
My father had been more or less a mystery to me my whole life. Briefly, when I’d been a child, he and I had connected in a certain way. When we moved to Ojai—from Ventura—when I was eight in 1991 he started taking me backpacking in Matilija Canyon. This became a great love of mine. We shared a deep love and respect for nature. We enjoyed silently zigzagging up steep, narrow dirt trails in the mountains, my father always with his hands behind his back, panting, slow but sure.
My dad had been born in 1945 in New Jersey. His father was just like my father later became (I remember my grandpa from my youth): Tall; bald; highly intellectual and rational; very conventional; highly successful. My grandpa made millions in the stock market and working as a CEO for several major IT corporations in the fifties through the eighties. Later, we got some of that money when grandpa died in 2000, when I was seventeen and just starting to get into trouble.
The fault lines were drawn at home when I was an outspoken, disruptive teen. Mom stepped up to the parental plate and pushed back. Dad, on the other hand, essentially, as far as I was concerned, disappeared. It was too much for him. He didn’t understand my rage. He didn’t understand that I was a sensitive, emotional kid who wanted to see the truth. My mother had come from her own childhood carnage and she, alone acting as two parents, tried to battle me on the mountaintop. In the end no one won. But by then I was gone. Alcohol took me on the ride of a lifetime.
Through my talk therapist—who I’d been seeing in Midtown near Carnegie Hall, at 7th Ave and West 54th since May—I’d decided to finally see a psychiatrist about my OCD. It was growing worse. Sometimes I fixated for hours on the possibility of the oven being on still in the apartment after I’d left; or that I’d sent the wrong text to the wrong person, making me check and re-check obsessively; or that Lucius didn’t have any food or water (never the case); or that I’d said something wrong or offensive to a book editing client; on and on and on, ad infinitum. It was mentally and emotionally draining, to say the least.