When I was 22, and Josh and I were newly in love—though we obviously didn’t dare to say that yet, obviously—a very close friend of mine had a party. A psychic party. A numerology party, to be exact.
I was, of course, expected to attend. And even though I have several times experienced, um, unexplained phenomenon, I was loathe to pay a stranger to lie to me about my future in the name of teenage friendship. Yet, that is precisely what I was prepared to do. You see, I had already skipped her recent candle party.
The day of the psychic party, I was in a bit of a time crunch because I had to work in a couple hours. I’d run late on purpose, thinking that I could just sneak in, maybe they wouldn’t have time for me, and I could sneak out. Only, they hadn’t even started. There were several women there, but the only people I knew were my friend and her mom. Everyone was milling about, chatting quietly, eating snacks. I looked around for a barefoot woman wearing a gypsy skirt or something, but there was no one there who looked like that. I sat down and waited. I was going to have to do this stupid thing. And the psychic wasn’t even here yet.
Eventually, one of the guests, a small middle-aged woman with short hair and glasses, stood up and said she was ready to get started. Since it was her party, my friend went first. She asked me to sit in the room with her, so I listened while the psychic told her all sorts of positive things about her job and her fiance, and her future. She slipped in a few minor negative things, but mostly it was You have a bright future; here, wear these shades.
When she was done, her mom went in. My friend and I chatted in a nearby room. She asked me what I was going to ask the psychic. I told her I didn’t know. She told me I should ask the psychic if Josh was The One.
I don’t believe in The One, and I never have. Maybe that’s a byproduct of being a child of divorced parents, or maybe it’s just that I have some understanding of math. Regardless, I believe in The Many. I settled on asking the psychic about college and about whether Josh and I had a future together.
When it was my turn, the psychic lady called me into her makeshift office. She popped a cassette tape into a portable recorder, hit Record, and started taking notes. Then she said the day’s date and asked me to say my name and birthday. From there she figured out my number and rattled off some basic “facts” about people with that number. She barely looked at me.
“So, what do you want to know?”
On the tape, you can hear how nervous I am. Maybe not nervous. I was uncomfortable, and sort of uninterested. This woman was a total stranger, and she wasn’t even looking at me. She was phoning it in.
I asked her some questions about my education and what career path I should take, and she fed me generic bullshit. I asked about my brother’s health and whether he’d fully recover from all of his injuries, and she was optimistic. I started to talk about my job situation, but she stopped me.
“Don’t you have a beau?”
“Oh, uh, I—”
“What’s his birthday?”
I told her and she gave me his number, one greater than mine.
“How are things with you two?”
“Oh, wonderful. He’s a great guy. He’s—”
“Look, I normally don’t do this. And you seem sweet. But I have to warn you, honey.” She took off her glasses, and looked right at me.
“He’s trash. He’s a trash baby. Do you know what I’m saying? A trash baby.”
“Not really. You don’t know him.”
“I don’t need to. I know what I see. This is what I do.” She leaned over the table and locked our gazes, without any malice in her eyes. “He is a trash baby. He will ruin your life. He will wear you down. He will use you up. He will lie, cheat, steal. Get away from this man as fast as you can. Understand? A trash baby.” She punctuated the air with her pen.
I nodded once, and stood up. Wasn’t this supposed to be a dumb little party? She hit Stop/Eject on the tape recorder and handed me the tape.
“That’ll be twenty-five dollars, honey.”
I paid her and I left, half shell-shocked, half defiant.
I probably listened to that tape 3 or 4 times between 2003 and 2006 or so. By 2004, it was clear that the psychic wasn’t totally wrong. But she was wrong. Josh went to counseling, he sought help, he did everything I asked of him. Or so I thought anyway.
By the time we were married in 2007, we’d had 2 years of relative harmony. We’d battled adversity. We’d overcome things individually and together. I had serious reservations about the institution of marriage (still do), but I didn’t have doubts about marrying him.
By 2009, he didn’t seem quite right again, but things were nothing like how awful they got in 2004. Again, he sought help. He got diagnoses, and medications, and he’s been diligent about taking them ever since. He showed real, tangible improvement. He evened out and life was good for another 2+ years.
And then in 2011, the other shoe dropped. This time I was pregnant. People tried to explain away our clashes as me being hormonal and a typical experience for couples who are pregnant, but I knew better. I’d seen this all before, except this time I was scared. How would I be able to help him when my real job would be taking care of an actual child?
And I thought about that damn psychic. She wasn’t wrong. It kills me that she wasn’t completely wrong.
Despite the fact that Josh got additional help for yet another diagnosis, 2013 was an awful year for so, so many reasons. And so I feel worn down. I feel used up. I feel lied to and used and manipulated.
But all of that is just temporary. No matter what happens between Josh and me, I will get past these feelings. So, she was wrong.
At the very least, she was wrong about me.