Memories of Ambivalence by Rachel Newcombe

I misuse the word.

After bantering, you lug a fat dictionary from your desk, riffle the pages, offer me a stage whisper sigh, and begin reading the definition of ambivalence.

“Oh,” I say.

“Yes, oh,” you say.

We laugh. We are a we.

Me on the couch. You in the chair behind me.

Thrice weekly, before rounding the corner of  W. 12th and 6th Avenue, I pass the magazine store that sells those peppermint balls I love, pass the Cosi sandwich shop where I look left to catch a glimpse of the Quad Cinema, pass the coffee place that I don’t go to because the coffee tastes burnt.

Then, there it is. The awning. Your numbers saluting me. 59.

Last December I return to New York City.  I take the one train down to the Village. Get off at the 14th Street stop. Walk up the stairs like I used to.  Head down the street, past the restaurant Coup, now closed, the windows papered.

Landmarks are gone. No A&P. No French Roast.  But Murray’s is still there. I conjure the smell of the steamy inside, a blend of pumpernickel bagel and lox.

Then, there it is. The awning. Still there. Your numbers saluting me. 59

I feel only love. Not a hint of ambivalence.

Rachel Newcombe is a psychoanalyst, supervisor and teacher on Orcas Island and Seattle, Washington. She co-leads a creative non-fiction writing group for therapists in Seattle. Her writing has appeared in Contemporary Psychoanalysis, The Psychoanalytic Review, The Rumpus, 7X7LA, Anti-Heroin Chic, and elsewhere.