Transcript of 47th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Katherine Lippard, Thursday, September 10, 1998 at 11:00 am.

Dr. Balis: Katherine! Hi, it's good to see you again. It's been a long time.
Ms. Lippard: Hi, Doc! Yeah, sorry it's been so long. I stayed longer than I thought would. And I've been working my ass off since I got back. And I've been looking for a house and...well, it's all just excuses anyway. And then you canceled my session last week.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry about that Katherine. I had a family emergency that I had to deal with.
Ms. Lippard: I wouldn't know anything about those. I hope everything's okay.
Dr. Balis: It will be fine, thanks. How does it feel to be back?
Ms. Lippard: I haven't even really caught up with Alex yet, though I feel like I really need to nail him down. He needs to talk. That boy sure leads an interesting life.
Dr. Balis: Yes, that's a good word for it.
Ms. Lippard: Have you changed the office around since I left?
Dr. Balis: I'm always adjusting things a little. Why, what's different?
Ms. Lippard: I don't know exactly. It feels more crowded, somehow--more clutter, less space.
Dr. Balis: Things do have a way of accumulating. So how was your trip?
Ms. Lippard: Great! I couldn't believe it. Alaska was so incredible, I just don't have the words for it. Jake might, he's pretty good with a phrase. Phil tried, he said he was so inspired he had to try some poetry, but he never let me see any of it. He said it didn't do it justice. It was the first time I saw him try something he didn't excel at. But, that boy can paint! We had to ship some stuff home, he painted so much. I remember one time--it was the first morning of a four day hike--we topped this ridge, and he was like...well, he was ahead of me, so he saw it first. I heard him kind of groan and sigh at the same time, and he literally fell to his knees. I thought something was wrong, he could have been shot for all I knew. I ran up to him and grabbed him and asked what was wrong. But he didn't even look at me, which scared the shit out of me. Finally, he said: "Katherine, look." So I did. My god, it was magnificent! The best word I can come up with is majestic, and that about half covers it. There were mountains, and glacier, and a hint of ocean off in the distance...oh, man. We sat there for an hour just looking, no exaggeration--I looked at my watch, it was over an hour. We just watched the cloud shadows caressing the hillsides, the eagles soaring on thermals like they owned the sky, the wind molding the tree tops. It took all that time just to absorb this amazing vista. And in all that time, we heard and saw nothing human--not a plane, not a dirt bike, nothing. At one point, I asked Phil if he wanted me to get his paints. He looked at me like I'd lost my mind. I remember his words exactly, he said, "Holy shit, Kathy, I can't paint this." And he was right. There is absolutely no way anything can capture all that grandeur. We have no pictures, no canvas, just a clear, amazing memory of maybe the purest, most majestic place on earth.
Dr. Balis: That sounds like an incredible place.
Ms. Lippard: It was. The whole trip was incredible. You have to go there sometime.
Dr. Balis: I just might.
Ms. Lippard: That was in the third week. We were having such a great time, that we decided to stay an extra week. I sent a telegram to the office to tell them. A telegram, can you believe it? Finally, we had had so much that we couldn't absorb any more. Actually, when we got back from that hike two days later, we decided to just spend a couple days relaxing in a luxury lodge near Anchorage and then go on home. Phil is still painting. I've never seen him so inspired.
Dr. Balis: That's wonderful, Katherine. I'm glad you got the chance to experience all that.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah, me too. It was really life affirming. When I came back and got into the City and the office, it, what a difference. But it's all wonderful in its own way, you know? I was afraid I might feel oppressed in a city this dense after all that open space, but it's okay. I'm okay. I can enjoy all this city has to offer on its own terms. And if I want to, I know the rest of the world is out there. I might go to the South Pacific next and see how wonderful that is. I hear New Zealand is pretty majestic, too.
Dr. Balis: I had a colleague who moved to New Zealand. He was pretty impressed by it.
Ms. Lippard: I'll give him your regards when I go.
Dr. Balis: I'm afraid we lost touch some years ago.
Ms. Lippard: Hmm. I really do have the best of everything, Doctor Balis: a wonderful brother, a job I'm good at and like, the freedom to travel, the ability to enjoy a broad variety of experiences. It's good to be me.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad you feel that way, Katherine.
Ms. Lippard: Thanks again for helping me realize all this. I owe you a lot.
Dr. Balis: You don't owe me, Katherine, I was glad to help. I like my job, too.
Ms. Lippard: Good, that's good.
Dr. Balis: Did anything else happen?
Ms. Lippard: Do you mean did I find him?
Dr. Balis: Did you?
Ms. Lippard: Sort of.
Dr. Balis: What does that mean?
Ms. Lippard: Well, we went to Malbae, the last place I heard from him. A man at the airfield remembered him. He said he was just a kid when my father left. But that couldn't be right, the guy looked at least 45. Anyway, he couldn't quite remember which town my father went to. But after we bought supper and an amazing amount of beer for five men, we finally narrowed it down to two places. Phil went to Annorack, and I tried Imaim. Phil struck oil the first night, so I flew over the next morning on Gehenna Air. That took most of the day, and I feel lucky to be alive. I actually watched a bolt rattle out of a wing support as we landed. I've never been so glad to get off a plane.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lippard: It was the kind of thing Jake would do, although I didn't know what I was getting into when I hired that guy. Anyway, Phil met me at the airfield with this woman, Mary-Louise Clark. It was right out of a romance novel. Mary-Louise has a boarding house, and Daddy rented a room from her for four years. They soon became lovers and stayed that way until he left. She said he was a sad man, kind of lost, kind of distant. He seldom talked about his family, but she said he had a picture of all of us that he always carried next to his heart. And she said he was especially fond of kids. He flew the mail and supplies to homesteaders in the bush, and he took tourists and reporters around. But he never flew hunters or geologists looking for oil or anyone like that. And when someone got lost, he was always the first to volunteer to look for them.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lippard: She made him sound like a good man, with a strong conscience...yeah...and a hero, too. The way Mary-Louise told it, there was once a group of hikers that got caught too far out without the right gear. They had an injured man, no fuel for the stove, and a blizzard coming in. Daddy knew they wouldn't survive the storm and went after them, even though planes were supposed to be grounded. He got them out just as the storm hit. He made it back by dead reckoning--no IFR beacons out there. It was a damn fool thing to do, but he saved four lives. Mama would have freaked if he tried something like that while they were married. Hell, I would have freaked in that position.
Dr. Balis: Sounds like he took quite a risk.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. Mary-Louise was pissed. But she's over it now. I can tell she loved him. She was full of praise for him. Apparently, he was caring, and compassionate, and stubborn, and quiet, and moral, and committed, and loyal, but finally, a drifter.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lippard: One day, he told Mary-Louise that it was time to move on. She said she understood and just let him go. She got a few postcards from Rae, about 1200 miles East of Annorack in the Northwest Territory, Canada. Then, nothing. He could be in Greenland by now, or Norway, or Hispaniola for all I know. Wherever. But I know two things: he's a man I can respect, and he never forgot us, his family.
Dr. Balis: How do you feel about all this?
Ms. Lippard: Good. I feel good, kind of complete. I know it's weird. How can I feel complete when there's so many questions left unanswered? Were is he now? Why did he leave? What was he looking for? But it's enough, you know? It's enough. He loved me, and I love him, and he's a good man. I feel sorry for him--he's always wandering, searching. And he probably doesn't even know what he's looking for. But he's trying to be useful, trying to do what's right. Hmm, he could be flying for Green Peace over the North Atlantic right now. Who knows?
Dr. Balis: I'm curious, Katherine, how do you feel now about his leaving the family?
Ms. Lippard: I feel...well, I feel kind of sorry for him. I guess the marriage and family experience just wasn't for him. I was kind of inspired by Mary-Louise. Clearly she loved him, but she didn't fight it a bit when he said he had to go. She loved him enough not to hold him back. I can do that. I couldn't when I was a kid, I didn't know such a thing existed. Kids are all about themselves, you know? But I can now. I can let him go, let him pursue his own path. I guess that's something a parent has to learn when their kids leave home, isn't it?
Dr. Balis: Yes, it is, although it usually doesn't mean never seeing your child again.
Ms. Lippard: Hmm.
Dr. Balis: Have you talked to Phil about this?
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. That night, after the vista I told you about, at the campfire, we talked. It was almost a week after we learned about all this. I guess it took that long to get to where I could talk about it.
Dr. Balis: How does he feel about it?
Ms. Lippard: I think Phil always understood what Daddy was doing. Even when he was a kid, on some level, I think Phil got it. He says he never really felt abandoned. And for a long time, he couldn't understand why I did. He's glad to know Daddy's such a good man. He says he feels reaffirmed. Do you know what I think, Doctor Balis? I think Phil is really much more Daddy's child than I am. I think Phil is the man Daddy wanted to be.
Dr. Balis: How so?
Ms. Lippard: Phil loves life, he approaches it with zest. He's found his dream, and he's following it. He's free in the world and within himself. I think Phil should be a daddy. He would make an excellent father.
Dr. Balis: Have you given any more thought to having children yourself?
Ms. Lippard: Some. I think I can do it. It will be hard to find a man to meet my standards, though.
Dr. Balis: Don't sell men short, Katherine. There are some good ones out there.
Ms. Lippard: Probably. Oh my, look at the time. I've got to get back to the office--I'm still catching up.
Dr. Balis: It was good to see you again, Katherine.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah, you too. Hey, Doctor Balis, let's get together for coffee or something once in a while, okay? Friends, no therapy. You're a nice guy, I don't want to lose touch.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. I'll think about that.
Ms. Lippard: Okay. Take care.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Katherine.
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