Preparing to see a psychic

Last week my mother and I were at brunch in Fort Myers, Florida. We were talking about drugs and the universe and how there are things we’ll both never understand.

“Well, for example,” she said, “I’ll never understand that psychic I went to a couple of times when your father and I were married. Lenora, I think, was her name.”

I was 9 years old when my mother went to the psychic. I, now 32, was wearing a neck brace and as I sat across from my mother, I wondered why the psychic hadn’t warned her about this future health issue of mine that I’d one day have. 

The reason I was wearing the neck brace and was in Fort Myers was to work with a doctor to try and change the “reverse S curve” in my spine. 

Some people think it’s possible to correct such a curve. Others not, but it’s important to have faith, so I’ve been told, by people who believe in things like faith.

“Did Lenora get anything right?” I asked my mother, while reading the brunch menu.

“So many things. I actually brought your Aunt Barbara with me for the reading, and Lenora told Barbara that Barbara was never going to get married because she had been put on earth to do angel’s work.”

6 months later, Barbara was hit by a semi.

“That’s crazy,” I said. “I’m also surprised she told her that.”

“Well, you know...you hear ‘angel’s work’, you don’t think ‘I’m dying tomorrow’, you think other things, like giving back or something.”

“What else?” I sipped my coffee. 

“Well, she said that Barbara’s mom hurt her foot. But, that wasn’t true, Shirley’s feet were fine, but then when we left, Barbara called and sure enough, Shirley was in the hospital in a foot brace.”

“Wow. That’s very weird.”

“But she was wrong on other things,” my mother continued, “she said your father was going to die from a motorcycle accident in five years, and well…”

“Well, he did get a motorcycle,” I said.

“Believe me, I know,” said my mother, “but...no crash,” she said, disappointed. 

I nodded. 

“You know...actually,” my mother began, “I think Lenora moved to Florida five years ago. Look her up.”

So I did.

“Holy shit,” I said. “She’s in Fort Myers.”

“Ha! It’s a sign,” my mother said.

Within minutes my mother booked us two readings that started in an hour. On the phone Lenora told us to,

“Write down whatever questions you want me to answer. Put them out in the universe that way the answers will come to me by the time you arrive.”

The waitress Marissa, full of tattoos and opinions, came by to take our orders and we told her about the psychic.

“Oh wow,” said Marissa, “that is a sign. You have to go. I love this stuff. My husband hates when I talk about it. Ooh!” her hands shook with excitement. “This is great. Psychic or medium?” 

“What’s the difference?” I asked.

“Well, a psychic senses things about the universe or our fate, and a medium,” again with the hands, “is someone who speaks with those who have passed.”

“Well then, Lenora is both,” my mother said, proud.

Marissa took our order, gave us receipt paper and pens for our question writing, and left.

Moments later we were scribbling. We only had so much time before the doors containing our fate would be closed forever or at least until we spent another $175/reading. 

I bucketed my questions. Questions like:

Will I be a full-time writer?

Is my neck going to actually get better?

Will Zach and I ever date?

But then I thought of Lenora responding with:

“You’ll always be an unsuccessful writer, your health problems are permanent, and Zach does, and will always, hate you.”

I bit my nails and rewrote my asks, hedging:

How can I be a better writer?

How can I improve my health?

How can I find love?

I looked up at my mother.

“What if…” I paused. “Nevermind.”

“What?” my mother asked, having already filled up an entire page with very specific questions like ‘What are my health problems going to be as I age? Is Barbara watching over me still? Should we buy more stock in Moderna?

“Mom, what if Lenora tells me that I’m here to do angel’s work?”

My mother gasped, “Why would you even say such a thing? She would never!”

“What? How do you know that?”

“She doesn’t say stuff like that to people anymore,” my mother said.

“What? You haven’t spoken to her in 10 years. Also she very clearly told you that dad was going to die.”

“That was a one off! I just know she won’t. I’m absolutely sure of it.”

I always let these go. My mother is very good at believing whatever she needs to, selling herself on any idea. She uses words like ‘always’ or ‘best’ or ‘I’m 100% positive that you’re bisexual instead of gay’. It’s a gift.

I was staring at my paper containing seven vague amateur questions, when I saw Marissa’s restaurant apron out of the corner of my eye.

“Marissa, what else should I ask? Maybe...something about bitcoin? I don’t know. I already wrote down my neck stuff and--”

“-um. I’m not Marissa.”

I looked up slowly, limited by my brace, to see a waitress holding our food who was in fact, not Marissa, but instead a soft spoken brunette with a Jesus necklace. She stared awkwardly.

My mother observed, enjoying the tension.

“So sorry,” I said. “We’re um, seeing a psychic who-” 

“-Psychic slash medium,” my mother corrected.

“Right, um, and Marissa seemed to know that stuff so I figured that um, well…” I paused. “You know what, nevermind.” 

“Okay!” She fled, perhaps thinking it was some sort of health psychic who was going to advise me in a last-resort/Make-A-Wish kind of way.

It’s good having a neck brace for conversations like those. A social insurance policy that allows haphazard participants to write off an awkward exchange of dialogue as ‘a sad interaction with a young man about his poor health’.

“What else did Lenora get right?”

“Well, she said I’d have three children and she was adamant about this and I told her no, I was never going to have a third kid, that it was just you and Emily, but then look now, there’s Rachel.”

That’s my step-sister, who doesn’t like my mother and reminds her of this by intentionally losing her mail or telling her that she can be replaced.

“Ooh! We should call Emily and ask her what she wants us to ask!” I said.

I took a bite of my omelet and dialed. 

Ring ring.

“You are absolutely not allowed to ask about me. Nothing,” Emily said. “Not a single question about me. I don’t want a bunch of predictions making me freak out about everything that happens to me. Is that clear?” she said.

“I’m asking her whatever I want,” my mother said. 

“MOM. NO THAT’S-”

“-Emily, you are an important part of my life, and I am asking her about the important things in my life that I want to know more about. Goodbye.” My mother hung up.

On my mother’s sheet I saw she had already written ‘Will Emily marry her boyfriend and will they have kids?’

My phone rang as Emily attempted to call us back. I didn’t answer. Then my mother’s phone rang. Then we turned off our phones. 

“Soooooooo,” said the real waitress Marissa. “I thought about it. Okay, so you should ask her what you need to do to be happy,” she pointed at me.

“Okay definitely,” I said, unimpressed with her contributions after she had twenty minutes of time to come up with ideas. 

“Wait no. Say true happiness,” she paused, thinking. “Not like...fake happiness like being married happiness...not that being married is unhappy, sometimes it’s happy, I’m just saying. Well you know. Find your happiness.”

“Sure,” I said.

Marissa walked away.

“She’s definitely getting divorced,” my mother said.

“Yeah, Jesus,” I replied, taking a sip of my coffee.

“Oh! Speaking of which,” my mother said, “Lenora’s husband left her years ago.”

“Wow.”

“Right? You’d think she would’ve-”

“-well maybe psychics can’t see their own future you know?” I said. “Like how people can’t smell their own breath.”

“How about, at the end of the session, you read her!” my mother joked.

“Can you imagine? Hi Lenora, give me your hands. There’s something I have to tell you,” I paused, “You’re here to do angel’s work.”

My next piece will be about doing Ayahuasca.

It sucked.

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