I am not really a fan of fortune tellers, they always seem to remind me of Greek tragedies. We would sit in Mr. Stobinicke's literature class reading aloud through plays like Antigone and Oedipus Rex and somehow, I always got the part of the seer. No one ever seemed to listen to the seer.
Since those days I have found myself in three situations where women have tried to tell me my future. Each was epically strange and timed in such a way that they each turned out to be somewhat true, but only hindsight is 20/20.
I'm home from college in Syracuse, visiting family and stopping in to see an on old friend, Lara. She is younger than me but has been married for over a year, we are sitting on the leather couch of her town house. Lara has a deck of tarot cards from her sister and for fun wants to try to read my fortune. She says she isn't sure she has the gift, draws cups and swords and tells me in a very serious tone that "Holmes, this isn't good."
It was something about her concern, I could tell she honestly believed it. This was someone who cared for me and she looked positively worried. I got a chill, she started asking me questions, I was at a loss. A week or so later my Mother and I are on the phone, she starts to cry for no reason and out of no where says she loves me. I ask her what she has been up to and she says "breathing lessons to help with my asthma, that's why I sound so rough." I know something is wrong. Its the intuition that sends me home to see for myself. Cups and swords apparently means cancer.
Chinese New Year 2004
I am running around at a campus event, I work for a school programming student activities and today is our very large scale Chinese New Year celebration. We have a large carnival set up in the student union. One of my co-workers is the daughter of the couple who own the largest Chinese food restaurant in town. She has her mother come in to calligraphy student's names.
After the crowd fades and the student leaders clean up, Mrs. Lin and I are sitting with her brushes and ink. She wants to make me a sign for good-luck. She very seriously had asked me what year I was born and clicked her tongue and laughed when I answered 1980. I was born the year of the monkey and here we were sitting in another year of the monkey. I told her I was happy to hear it I could use all the good luck I could get.
At this Mrs. Lin frowned. Typical I guess, for a westerner to make the complete wrong assumption of eastern tradition. Mrs. Lin explains I will need to be careful all year, that I should not under any circumstances make any major decisions or plans. She tells me to buy a good piece of jade to wear and walk carefully. Her daughter is a year older than me and is just coming out of her birth sign year. Mrs. Lin points to the beautiful jade elephant around her daughters neck and explains she and her husband bought it for her last year to protect her.
I laugh and show Mrs. Lin my engagement ring. She picks my hand up to her face and shakes her head, if only she knew about the house to follow. She tells me to buy a big piece of jade. In the months following, I look around but buy no jade.
New Years Day 2009
I am wretchedly hung over and freshly robbed of my iPod. It is six in the morning in San Jose, Costa Rica. I am quietly curled into a ball on the seat of a luxury bus heading to the Tabacon Grand Spa at the Arenal Volcano. If there has to be one place to recover from a New Years Eve of tequila, its there. I sip water and patiently wait for the tour company to stop at each hotel before heading up into the mountains. Before we leave the city the most obnoxious couple gest on and break the pleasant silence on the bus with loud American accents.
The bus makes one rest stop. I sit in the shade deciding I am nearly half better and that in an hour or so with food I will be back to action. The loud, gaudy, middle-aged American couple is lost. Knowing for sure my solitary day at the hot springs will be jeopardized, I help them. Before we are back on the bus the woman explains to me that I am in need of a reading and gives me her card. Great.
At the spa I slip away into paradise wandering through hot springs and having a first class massage. On my way to the trails into the jungle sanctuary I run into my new friends. The woman asks me to sit at the end of her chase lounge and after some small talk about being a psychic asks me for money. I figure the only way out of the awkward situation is to comply, but I meekly say all I have is twenty Cordoba, from Nicaragua. She takes it, I doubt she knows its worth about a dollar.
She explains chakras, not very colorfully, and then takes my hands and begins to shock the absolute hell out of me.
She tells me there is no surprise in a young marriage failing and that I should stop being ashamed. She tells me my mother wishes I was back in school. She tells me my ex will hurt me again, take my very heart if I'm not careful. She tells me when I get home, I'm going to have to move soon. "Whose the blue eyed guy?" She asks me. I won't give her an inch, "Which one? My whole family is full of blue eyes." "No, this is some man you're seeing." I say nothing. "Well, in any case, he's all right doll but he's as good as gone, move on. He isn't head over heals and you gotta know what that's like again." She compliments me in various ways at this point, which to me reeks of over encouraging mediocrity and though I'm smiling I am far from flattered.
She tells me to save my money for something big on the horizon. She then tells me to stop reaching out to friends that don't reach back. That last one hurts.
I get the feeling I need to leave, I stand up and thank her then walk into the jungle laughing.
I don't really care much about my future. Maybe I'm the sci-fi junkie that thinks there are as many dimensions of existence as there are choices to make, in one of them maybe I've made all the "correct" ones. The dimension of the path of least resistance. Boring. I could never be happy there. Most of the joy of being me is the beautiful mess I'm made up of.
I'm wonderfully unafraid of mistakes.