Monday, August 11, 2008

A funny thing happened on 47th street

There is (or was--in my happy place in my head nothing actually changes unless I am there to witness it) a fortune teller on 47th Street in Manhattan. She has a neon sign in the front window of a brownstone in an otherwise residential block. You walk up the steps and ring the buzzer, and maybe she answers and maybe she doesn't--I know because I went back a second time a few years later and no answer.

In 2003 I was having a bit of a rough weekend--Jeff and I had split up, and all signs pointed to Nora Kissed Another Frog Funny How She's Smart And All But With Her Taste In Men You'd Never Know It. I was living out my familiar role as the one whose love life makes you feel superior and that you'd dodged a bullet yourself. Can you imagine? So public. I think I would DIE. Poor Nora. I don't know how she does it.

I was in Manhattan with my family for a restorative weekend of plays and restaurants and such. On the way back from one of them, my dad and sister and I passed the brownstone on 47th street. On a whim we rang the buzzer. I think there's something to some of these fortune tellers, you know, said my dad. She let us into her impossibly small studio--the size of the bay window in the front room curtained off to hold a tiny table and two chairs.

She was a vision of only-in-New York. A diner mug of coffee with cream with a lipstick ring, clearly not the first cup of the day, a cigarette nearby. Her accent was mostly New York (new yawk) with just a hint of something else--European, maybe? She named her price and looked me square in the eye and said you won't be disappointed, I have a gift. My father forked over the cash and she invited me to sit down.

Before I was fully seated she reached out and took my hand. I thought it was a handshake situation, sealing the money exchange that had just taken place. But the moment our hands touched she started talking, and didn't stop for quite awhile. Like us touching gave her the connection she needed.

She knew about Jeff. She knew his name. She said all he needs is time, he really loves you. She said I should not consult my friends about what to do, I should act first and talk later because I have friends close to me whom I cannot trust. She said I would be a student soon and that I would have surprise trips to California and Florida.

The thing about Jeff, about me being a student, and about the trips, those all came true. I'm sure my face that day made her job easy--it wouldn't have taken much to see I was going through something of a time. But she could not have known that I had just been accepted to graduate school. She could not have known about Jeff, about what we had been through. She could not have known that I did need a little coaching in listening to my own still small voice--that in spite of my past blunders and his recent ones I knew he was The Real Deal, that he was Worth It. And that a gentle whisper inside was still saying so even as the voices around me were warning me away.

She said a few other things that I will wait to see if they come true. Who knows? Some will, I imagine. Some I don't see any path to from where I am now. She probably doesn't know that her raspy fortune-telling brought me great peace and strength. She might have been the first person to tell me in words that made any kind of sense that my opinion about my own life was more valuable than anyone else's.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a story. I'm so practical I would never do this, but when I read something like this I wonder what I might be missing.

Irene said...

I too am practical and rational, but this has me thinking there may be other forces at work that I know nothing about. Extreme intuitive thinking? Whatever you call it, I would like to meet up with her and have a reading. See what she makes of me.

Irene said...

By the way, is there a recipe for that whopping cornbread?

JCK said...

The most amazingly cool thing is that your dad was right there with you and into it. I love that! When you connect with someone with a gift, it really is something other worldly.

Thanks for sharing this story.

PicaboMama said...

I had a very similar experience with a psychic. I wrote about it recently in my blog.
I believe that some people have a real gift for intuition, although I think it is much less mysterious than we want it to be. Humans are just not that complicated, especially for those who can REALLY pay attention.

Minnesota Matron said...

Oh darling. The Matron had a similar experience. At 33, she sat down in front a psychic to be told these absolute facts about her fine self:

You just had your first child and you used to always be cold, but now you're hot, hot hot. Your metabolism has changed and it will make you sick someday.

You will be fertile well into your forties and have a third child at forty.

Your father left when you were five and you never get over it. You should.

There's much much more. But thankfully, the Matron lives nearby this woman and every two or three years, she sees her and is struck down, again.

The last time? She asked the psychic if God really truly existed. (yes, yes, that's a trope but she did it)

The psychic said: "Are we sitting here? That's a ridiculous question. How do you think we all breath?"

And continued.

Vanessa said...

I love fortune tellers. The insight can be mind blowing.