Saturday, December 21, 2013

$75 and wiser for the wear


On the 18th of this month, I visited a psychic. 
For as long as I could remember, her home, also her place of business, was located off the highway I'm forced to drive on nearly everyday. I've spent more time on I-35 than I have spent doing laundry or painting my nails, or re-filling my pets' water bowl. And more likely, more time of my life has been spent traveling on I-35 than the cumulative effect of all three of those things. 
So it occurred to me more than once that I should stop there and find out what lay ahead for me. 

This was the time I finally gave in. 

I pulled up to her home and rang the doorbell to the office, a side room separated from the rest of her home.
After some time (so much time that I thought of leaving) she answered. 
She was an elderly Latina in a leopard print pajama dress. Her skin was the color of leather and her blonde hair was pulled up into a messy bun. She had a Yorkshire Terrier tucked between her elbow and her left hip. 
"Come. Sit,"she beckoned me inside. 
I looked around the small room where she does her readings. Ceramic Virgin Mary statues and semi-precious polished stones cluttered a counter that ran along the length of the room, which couldn't have been larger than 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. The walls were a warm pink and the carpet was burgundy. There were two chairs facing each other near the door. 
I was still looking around the room when she insisted again, "Sit."
I sat in the chair nearest to the door. 

"How did you hear of me?"
"Uh... just driving by, I'm always on I-35."
"Hm. It's $40 for a card reading. $50 if you want me to read your palm and your cards. How will you pay?"
I was still taking in the room and had hardly heard her, "I'm sorry?"
"What kind of credit card do you have?"
"Mastercard."
"Good, I don't take American Express."

She sat down and began turning about a deck of cards in her hands. She cut the deck into 3 stacks. There was a burned palm heart on the counter and she touched it to my forehead and each of my shoulders, then set it back on the counter. 
"Touch each stack, then put them back together however you want."
I obeyed and handed the deck back to her. 

She placed 12 cards face down near me, "Turn them over."
And as I turned the cards over, she started telling me things about myself. 
"These two, closest to you," she touched two cards, "you moved recently or are preparing for a move. It's going to be in your best interest.
"You loved two men this year; one tall, one short. Both hurt you. You worry, a lot, about not being with someone. Your mother was also unlucky in love and you wonder if that's how your life will be. 
"The last couple of months were unlucky for you. A lot of bad news. A lot of pain. You're under a lot of pressure now. 
"It's going to be okay. You should worry less."

She told me a few other things and then briskly took my right hand and flipped it over so that she could see my palm. "A long life, maybe 100 years. Maybe 99. Just like your great grand mother.*" (*It should be noted, that where my great grandmothers did not live particularly long lives--one passed on in her 80s, another as a teen giving birth to my grandmother and her twin brother-- I did have one great-great grandmother who lived to be 104. This is a documented fact. I'd always thought this was a myth but at my Great Aunt Betty's funeral this past November, I saw my great-great grandmother, Facunda's, grave and it said 1886-1990. But anyway...)

"Your worry about love, it's marked you. You've got a bad aura around you. I can help you, with crystals and prayer. Get rid of that aura. It will cost, the whole thing, $350. Would you like for me to help you?"

"Oh no, I can't."

"How much more can you pay?"

"Maybe another $20? $25?" Paying the initial $40 was a stretch for me. I'd actually rang her doorbell thinking I'd first ask about the going rate for a psychic reading before committing, but once I was called to sit I wasn't sure how to express my non-committal intentions. And where this would have been a good time to say, "I think I'm fine with my dirty aura and all, we've become pretty attached," I instead went along. 

Again, she picked up her palm heart and touched it to my forehead and shoulders. She put it back in its place on the counter and picked up two mint-colored polished stones. "Keep these with you all the time, they're blessed and will bring you luck." She stood and touched my right shoulder in such a way that I understood I was to stand. She opened the door I'd come in from, "Study. You can do it this time." I was standing outside, she was inside, and she gently closed the door behind me. 

& before I jump into why I believe her, I think it's important that you understand that I'm not crazy. I understand that the things the psychic said, especially when coupled with her prodding for money, are vague enough to be about anyone.
How many other people had this exact same year?
For example, Austin is, and has been, quickly growing. I heard once that everyday, over one hundred new people move to Austin. The city is supposedly at 98% occupancy at all times. Is it really that strange for her to guess that I, like so many others, have just recently moved here? Recently being relative; I could have moved a year ago and still might be prone to saying things like, "I just moved here."

Where I thought she might be talking to me, saying something true and unique to me, was when she talked about my love for two men, "one tall, one short." & my fixation with being single (& with that, the thing about my mom).
It's possible that a quick scan of my left hand and an assumption about my age betrayed me, here. & the mom thing: Oscar Wilde wrote, "All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his."
In a time where people married younger and where traditional gender roles were enforced in marriage, is it that wild of a conjecture? Of course my mother is dissatisfied, many women her age are. & true to Oscar Wilde's sentiment, I fear that I am doomed to walk a path parallel to my mother's.

"One tall, one short."
The cool thing about that is the word, "short." Short is relative--is he short because he's shorter than the other guy? was the relationship short? is he actually short?
In my own narrative; Solo is taller than Crane, what I had with Crane was brief, and Crane was insecure about his petite frame although he was of average stature.

I'd like to talk about these two relationships for a moment.
2013 was undoubtedly my year of unrequited love.
There was Solo; for as long as I've known him he's persistently been on the brink of that one thing that will catapult him into international sensationalism. We were best friends and there was nothing I couldn't talk to him about. He laughed at all my jokes and accepted the imperfections of my personality. & God, did I love him. Were it not for the fact that he was constantly critical of my appearance (things finally came to a painful ultimatum with him saying, "I could love you the way you want me to if you would just lose the weight"), it would have, without a doubt, been him. Needless to say, this sort of frequent conversation with Solo really took a toll on my self confidence and from that ultimatum (our own Battle of the Bulge, if you will), I decided I couldn't go on feeling that way about myself. I didn't want to spend one more day feeling like my relationship clung to my decision to have one more bite-sized snickers or to spend another 15 minutes walking my dog. In the wake of my decision to stop feeling so shitty (& concurrently, to not date Solo* [*fortunately, around this time he was feeling the same way and we were able to avoid an uncomfortable break up conversation]), I started getting flirted with by guys I thought it would have been cool to date.

Enter Crane; smart, hardworking, family-oriented, handsomehandsomehandsome.
Before I knew it I was falling for this kid, and my heart--always entering any given situation 10 minutes sooner than my head--shattered before the rest of me had even hit the floor.
From Matt Groening's Life in Hell series.

Even though I'm not physically with you as you read this, I can sense your frustration; didn't I promise to be funnier? Didn't I say I was going to stop agonizing over this?
To spare you the torment of having to endure the same story I've been telling since August, I'll just say the aftermath of the whole Crane thing sort of sucked. (Not to mention, it happened in conjunction with several other major and embarrassing setbacks.)

Weirdly enough, the morning of the 19th, I woke up and couldn't understand why I'd been so broken up about Crane. Maybe the mint-colored-crystals had done the trick? Whatever it was, it left me feeling sort of unsettled to all of a sudden wake up without the consuming, obsessive sadness I'd been dragging along since October.
& so I turned to a friend.
I told my friend, Janice, that I suddenly wasn't heart broken anymore & that I felt sort of stupid for being so attached so quickly to someone (especially someone who had the decency to tell me upfront that things couldn't get serious between us) & being so hurt about things ending.
& she said, "I see what you're saying. But don't look at it that way. It is better to let your heart actually feel than to be one of those people who are so jaded that they don't let themselves even feel and may just possibly be losing out on something. I'd rather be foolish with my heart and take chances than be jaded and numb."
Which is similar to words by Alfred Lord Tennyson, "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
Which made me feel better, and less fickle...and better.

I don't know if the pajama-clad woman living off of the highway and turning tarot cards over for paying patrons, as a clustered clutter of ceramic Virgin Mary's look on, is really a psychic. Even with the afore-mentioned statistical probabilities staring me down, I want to believe that she was the real deal. Not only because I paid the handsome sum of $75 for a couple of green crystals and someone rattling off things that have a demographic likelihood of being true about me; and not just because as I left, I carefully tucked the crystals into my wallet so that I would always have them; but because, ultimately, at the end of this year, it was nice to have someone tell me that I would be okay.

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