I was not new to getting readings when I sat down in front of Julie* (name changed to protect us all) (also I don’t remember it). My friends and I frequently shelled out $5 and $10 for readings at county fairs and the like when we were giggling, goody-goody teenagers. So when my good friend asked if I wanted to have a girls’ night at a hip local bar that would have a psychic doing readings for $20, I thought it would be fun.
And I really, really needed some fun.
I was in a terrible time in my life. I had just finished grad school and had zero direction. My job ended with school and I had no money and was this close to losing my apartment. I was borrowing money from my parents for cat food. My boyfriend had dumped me six months previous and I couldn’t get over it and “dinner” was frequently a bottle of red wine from the local convenience store.
I was horribly, horribly depressed. So a night out with a girlfriend to go to a chic bar and get my palm read sounded awesome. knew that dropping $20 (plus another $20 for drinks and the like) was super-irresponsible considering I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay the next month’s RENT, but a night out hiding from all those problems was irresistible. I wanted to dress up, have fancy drinks, laugh with a friend while doing something silly.
And frankly, I wanted some good news.
Just like the teenage girls we used to be, we giggled maniacally as we shot surreptitious looks at the psychic in the back of the bar. We dared each other to go first. We might have even rock-paper-scissored. Her rock must’ve crushed the hell out of my scissors, ‘cause over I went.
Julie was lovely and absolutely Portland. Hot, tattooed, funny, and hip. I laughed at myself for how nervous I’d been -- this was all for a good time! And surely she was going to tell me that everything would be fine, that I’d have a long life and a hunky husband and a fulfilling career! I mean, that’s what they always say, right?
I won’t bore you with the banter, but here were the high points of my reading:
1) I would live a long life, but only after overcoming some horrible disaster in my early 30s (she was really into this one -- kept grabbing my hand and pointing at some invisible thing and saying “This really worries me”).
2) I don’t have a love of my life. I’ll have a series of brief, passionate affairs and a short-lived marriage, but no lasting happiness.
Yay. So glad I came here for a good time.
I wanted to write her off as a fraud. I mean, I don’t even believe in psychics! I’m a grown adult! I’m a skeptic! An agnostic! I don’t believe in MAGIC!
Except that I totally do. After she said all this to me, I burst into tears. She shrugged and said she was sorry she didn’t have better news for me. And then she tried to mellow the blow by saying I’d have “some” career recognition. Well, that’s….good.
I bitterly handed her my $20 (you would think she would comp me after making me cry, but whatever) and slunk off to the bathroom where I could cry in peace before re-applying my “We’re having fun” face and re-joining my friend.
That was over three years ago. And it hasn’t left me. It’s not quite an obsession, but it pops up in my thoughts way more often than I’d like. When I fight with my boyfriend I wonder if this is the end -- since the psychic said I’d never have a lasting relationship. Sometimes when I get into my car I think “Is this the accident?” or if I get the flu I think “Is this the disease?” always wondering if it’s the “disaster” she spoke of.
And I know, I know that it’s all bullshit. Of course it is. But unfortunately for me, some of her smaller predictions turned out to be correct. She asked if I modeled at all. I said no, and then 4 months later I started working as an artist’s model for a photographer. She asked if I was a writer, again I said no, and then 2 years later I discovered that I love to write.
And so I make bargains with myself 00 maybe the fender-bender I had last year that left me with some chronic physical problems was the “disaster” she predicted! Maybe the worst is over! Things like that.
Sometimes I consider going to another psychic, just to contradict her. But if, IF the second psychic agrees with the first one, I’ll probably go absolutely crazy and move to a cave in the mountains or something.
As comforting as it would be to have someone tell me she was a fraud (I don’t know why, but I find comfort in the idea of a psychic telling me another psychic is a fraud), it’s not worth the risk of having the scary stuff confirmed.
The ancient Greeks had some strong ideas about trying to outrun or change your fate, and how you shouldn’t do it ever. Maybe I should make like the ancients and sit back and try to accept it?
Maybe I should get down on my knees and pray to the God I don’t believe in to give me a better future. Maybe I need to invent some kind of cleansing ritual I can do in my bathroom early one morning before my boyfriend wakes up to exorcise her curse (sorry to hyperbolize, but it feels like it) from my head.
Or maybe I can keep living my life, making art and making mistakes and loving and hating and singing and screwing and buying more vintage dresses. After all, this life is the only one I get. And I don’t want to waste a minute more of my time worrying about the predictions of a two-bit-hack bar psychic.
But, ladies, please take my advice. Don’t go visiting psychics. They can fuck you up good.