Hokey though I recognize it may be, I've long been fascinated by all things psychic. As a kid, my best friend & I even created a fake guide to psychic activity, authored by Ima Foné (genius), to try to... I don't even remember. Trick her brother into believing that psychics existed? (Sorry we were sort of mean to you, David. I love you.)
It follows, then, that I'm fairly obsessed with the idea of visiting psychics. Don't worry, I'm not doing it on a regular (or even a semi-regular) basis, but I like the idea of it, & so whenever I pass one of those "PSYCHIC READINGS, $5" signs on the front of some hole-in-the-wall joint with beaded curtains, I'm sorely tempted. Occasionally, I give in - which is what happened earlier this month when I forked over $12 to have a tarot card reading done at a hippie store in downtown Red Bank.
Let me set the scene for you: This store sells dreamcatchers & incense & tumbled-smooth rocks & palmistry books & lots of handcrafted silver jewelry & small stone statues of faeries. I like it because it reminds me of my college town, where old beatniks abound, but I can't think of a single thing I'd ever be likely to buy there. And yet... it was a Saturday, & the sign in the window read something enticing & succinct, like, "TAROT CARD READINGS TODAY!" & I fell for it. I paid my cash, put my name on the list, waited 15 minutes or so, & was eventually ushered into... a dressing room with beaded curtains.
My psychic - can I call her that? I'm gonna call her that - was a slightly disheveled but friendly-looking woman of unidentifiable age, clothed in black velvet. [Sidebar, if I may. If I've never told you how I feel about velvet, here it is: I think touching velvet feels like petting a cat backward. It shouldn't be done, it's horrible, get it away from me. However, because I recognize velvet as a culturally important fabric to those who believe in the super- & preternatural, I tried to overlook this grievous textile offense.]
Her cell phone alarm went off. "Sorry about that!" she exclaimed. "I just got my first iPhone, & I'm not sure how to use it yet." I leaned forward, ready to try to help her out when I realized that it was actually an Android phone. This was the moment I learned that technologically unsavvy individuals sometimes refer to all smartphones as iPhones, even when they're not of the Apple variety, since confirmed by a friend who works for Verizon & lists that as one of her primary pet peeves. I assigned negative two points right off the bat to my psychic, although I suppose a psychic doesn't necessarily need to have a profound mastery of modern technology.
She asked me a lot of questions, more questions than I think a psychic should have to ask, but I'm not in the business of telling people's futures, so I tried to be helpful while staying as tight-lipped as possible. I didn't want to give her any emotions or added commentary that might color my reading. You're the psychic, lady, you tell me. I'm not giving you anything to work with! When she asked me how old I was, though, I answered ("29."), & she seemed taken aback. "Wait, really? I thought you were a lot younger. I'm 32 &... well, I thought you were a lot younger than me." Now, I don't look particularly young - in fact, I'd say I look exactly 29 - but in fairness, if pressed, I would've guessed that she was about 42, so maybe one or both of us has a skewed perspective.
Anyway, the reading went well, I think, in terms of her not telling me I was about to kick the bucket, or anything. The first card I pulled was "Chaos" (of course), so she spent a lot of time talking to me about the mess that is my life & all the things life has planned for me in the near future, & it was all so alarmingly spot-on that I had trouble hiding my surprise. In fact, it was actually a reassuring experience: Oh, the stars say everything will turn out OK & I won't end up financially destitute & miserable? Thank God. Then again, she also told me she can see that I'm very close to my parents (Note: My father died in 1995), which helped ground me in the recognition that such readings are to be taken lightly. Still, I left her fitting room - er, psychic lair - equal parts rattled & reassured.
Have you ever been to a psychic? Do you want to hear about the time one freaked me the hell out by telling me about my personal guardian angel slash child ghost? How about the time I got a reading in a New Orleans park by a turban-clad woman who called me "my dear" every five words, such that I couldn't pay attention to the rest of what she was saying?
Like I said, um, I'm prone to falling for these things.
Top image: Candles And Cards by Katrina Joyner. All other images my own.