I checked in and when a complete stranger came out to the waiting room and called my name, I was so confused. Who was this woman? Where was Carmel? My heart beat wildly as I followed her back to the room and sat down and then she turned her back to me to pull up my chart and all I could think was, "What is happening?"
She finally turned to me and said, "Hi. I'm Emily." She offered me her hand to shake and I took it despite my conflicted feelings.
I stared at her and finally found my voice, "Where is Carmel?"
She tilted her head and gave me a sympathetic nod that I didn't believe was genuine for a single moment, "She no longer works here."
And just like that, Carmel and I were over. We'd been seeing each other for years and then she was just gone without so much as a goodbye.
"Oh..." I said.
"I'll be working with you now."
I wanted to say, "Listen Emily, you seem like a nice girl but you don't just get to decide that we are together now. That's not how this works."
But I said nothing as I wondered how it had come to this.
Emily was nice enough as we got to know each other. She asked the usual questions and we made small talk and she smiled and was gentle but it just wasn't the same.
When my appointment was over, she asked if I wanted to make my next appointment and I said I did and she booked me with her and I guess now it is me and Emily, sitting in an adjustable chair, C-L-E-A-N-I-N-G.
As I walked to my car, I emailed a friend who had also been seeing Carmel (yes, we obviously had an open relationship) and gave her the news. She wrote back, "NOOOOOOOOOO!"
Yes, my friend. Give up coffee and start flossing 20 times a day because now we have to try. You always have to try when a relationship is new.