Aaron and I met 17 years ago. It was the first day of our Clinical Psych graduate degree program at San Francisco State. I was sure it would not be long before the other members of my cohort discovered admissions had made a mistake and let an artist into the program. I had only a few basic psych classes under my belt and felt very much like an outsider. As we filed into a large classroom with desks positioned in a half circle I panicked. It was the lunch room all over again. Where was the misfit artist table?
As I quickly tried to read the room while my classmates found their seats, I saw a man with sun kissed curly hair and a deep cut Bjork album t-shirt. He'll do, I thought. At the very least, he was probably a surfer and had hopefully befriended and artist once or twice in his life. I smiled, placed my bag on the floor and quietly slid into the desk beside him. We listened to who would later become one of our favorite mentors, Dr. David Gard, outline how we would be spending the next two years on this thrilling adventure known as psychology. And oh, also today you will decide who you will be sharing a psychotherapy office with for the next year. When David was finished speaking, we broke for a half hour or so to mingle and try to find an office mate out of the 10 new people we were just intimately grouped with for the next two years of our lives. GULP. This was not my strong suit.
I stood up pretending to look in my bag and was preparing to walk out the door and run for the hills. But then, Aaron came right over to me. “Hi,” he said. “I'm Aaron and I'm really a soccer player, but I guess I'm going to try being a psychologist for a while.” Thank you sweet Jesus, I thought. I smiled and said, “Hi Aaron, I'm Lisa, I'm really an artist.” He laughed in the way he still does, where he tilts his head back and puts his hand on his chest, like his whole body is laughing. “So I guess this soccer player is going to be sharing an office with an artist then?” “Yes,” I answered, “yes.” I had found my misfit.
And for 17 years, we have reminded each other who we really are, no matter the identity. Soccer player, husband, wife, psychologist, artist, parent, friend. I've watched Aaron go on to earn a Ph.D and become an incredibly skilled clinician and college professor. He remains one of the smartest people I know and it is always a treat to connect with his mind, whether it is about psychology or how much he hates the Yankees, or is embarrassed by my shameless love of Duran Duran. He is a deeply caring and sensitive soul and his patients and students are truly lucky to have him care about them.
As am I.
AARON is JOY.
You can listen to Aaron's Joy is Now episode here.