The psychic's warning
Dare to enjoy the in-between.
On a smoky day in Chicago earlier this month, my friend, Fran, and I stopped in to see a psychic.
The sky was gray and ominous; the sun looked like a not-so-far-away glowing planet from Star Wars. Most people, including myself, walked around without masks, giving themselves over to the apocalypse.
I first met Fran in the halls of our all-girls, Catholic high school in southern California when we were both 14. At 17, were both on the Associated Student Body leadership board and ran the school pep rallies, she dressed as Harry Potter, myself dressed as Hagrid. At 22, we graduated from separate colleges in San Diego; I went off to Syracuse for grad school, and she went to South Africa for the Peace Corps. At 31, I spent the first three months of the pandemic hiding out in Las Vegas with my mother, where Fran was finishing her final year of med school. Fran, her boyfriend, Mike, and I hiked Red Rock Canyon together, and I was surprised when Mike got on one knee and proposed to her. I whipped out my phone to take a video—unfortunately, that video is entirely of my own ear. At 33, I stood up and gave the maid of honor speech at her wedding near Palm Springs. And now, I was in Chicago to witness her graduation from her medical residency program. My girl was finally a DO.
Fran’s favorite show is Ancient Aliens, which is 19 seasons of hunting down signs of extraterrestrial visitation in historic buildings and artifacts. In high school, I told Fran my family blamed the ghost of my trickster uncle for moving things in my house around, and she was afraid to come over for years. In adulthood, Fran regularly counsels psychics to help ease her intense anxiety. Plus, she strengthened her Catholic faith over the last several years and spends a lot of time in prayer.
Her belief system is eccentric and lively, and I love to talk with her about life’s mysteries.
That day in Chicago we explored Wicker Park, a neighborhood that reminds me a lot of my favorite parts of Brooklyn. We spent a charming hour perusing the secondhand shelves of Myopic Books, and I took a heavy tome of Nora Ephron essays home with me. Before we could even get half a block away, Fran spotted a neon “psychic” sign and soon we were walking up a narrow staircase into a woman’s private apartment. A white dog gate separated the stairway from a living room with a couch, decorated by plenty of crystals and Tarot decks for sale.
The psychic, who had frizzy, graying hair and wore a flowing brown dress and glasses, welcomed us and asked us what we were looking for. Fran decided on a psychic reading for $120.
“Is this your girlfriend?” the psychic asked, pointing at me.
“No, she’s my friend,” Fran said.
“Okay, well she can wait outside.”
Fran asked if I could stay, and the psychic warned her that if I did, she might read my energy by mistake. “I think it’s fine if she stays,” Fran said, and I pulled up a chair to sit next to her.
I was a little nervous to stay for the reading.
I’m pretty agnostic when it comes to most things supernatural or woo-woo. Since energy is the foundation of every conscious and nonsentient being in the galaxy, and we are all made of the same matter that never regenerates, but only recycles, I very much believe that human beings can feel and sense nonverbal and nonphysical things (which is why the line between “feelings aren’t facts” and “trust your higher intuition” can be hard for me to parse sometimes). And I’m aware that science and what humans regard as “Truth” shifts enormously every 30 years or so. So leaving some room for awe about the unknown—and humbling my sense of knowledge and ego—is important to me.
Plus, magic is real.
However, I am not a fatalist and have worked really hard to learn to trust my own guidance and decision-making powers rather than seek advice from others. I do regular Tarot pulls, usually to mark the new and full moon, and journal on the messages I find there, but they are messages that are already inside of me. I do not seek the future, or even certainty. I only seek to tap into the vast wealth of knowledge I already have that gets locked away behind fear, self-loathing, and outside influences that don’t have my best interests at heart. In short, the bullshit.
So a psychic—or any other practice that’s going to “tell my future” or share predetermined facts about my life—is not welcome. I am susceptible to other people’s voices, weak to seeds of doubt, so I try to protect myself from unsolicited opinions—especially when they’re presented to you as black and white.
So few things are knowable in this world, and though sometimes the waiting and the wondering can feel unbearable, life’s unknowns are so often where the zest of life is found.
Think about it: Many of life’s most exciting, wonderful, worthwhile moments are found in the in-between, the anticipation, the sheer ignorance of what’s in store.
Who am I going to be? What dreamlands will my ambitions take me to in my real life? Will we kiss? (Oh, the sweet longing.) What will being in love feel like?
There is nothing like those first few months of dating someone you are already on your way to loving. There is so much to discover, so many questions. What will we become? What is nervousness but excitement tinged with hope (and maybe some fear, though it’s always worth pushing through)?
Never rush the sweet, delicate time between what’s now and what’s next. Even in the depths of a living hell, you never know what tomorrow may bring—if you’re making daring, intentional choices for yourself and your happiness. I try to stay open to possibilities and dream big about what my life could look like, even when it doesn’t look great in the present. Because no one can stop me but me. I can change it all tomorrow if I choose to.
So, to pay good money to let a total stranger tell me absolute truths about the life I have not yet lived? No, thank you. I’d rather find out for myself.
The psychic began to lay out about twenty Tarot and Oracle cards, and I mentally closed off my energy. I crossed my arms and sat in total silence. I tried not to think about the lingering questions I had on my mind that day—particularly an upcoming, important job interview.
The psychic rattled off some visions of Fran’s life, upcoming changes and challenges. Fran was about to move back to California with her husband and begin a new job in downtown LA. That contract had been signed and sealed for some time now. So when the psychic brought up a “promotion,” some sort of big move at work, Fran was confused.
But I wasn’t. I was one of three final candidates up for a life-changing, future-altering job at a respected media organization. My interview was days away. And I wanted the job, badly.
“This promotion, this recognition at work,” the psychic said, staring into Fran’s eyes. “I’m sorry, but it’s not going to work out for you.”
“Huh?” Fran said. “Okay…I’m not sure what that could mean.” They moved on to other topics while I sat there constricted by worry. What if she was reading my energy? What if it was a foregone conclusion that this job wouldn’t be mine?
The topic of love came up, and the psychic said she saw a serious rift or blockage in Fran’s relationship.
“No, I’m happily married,” Fran said. “That might be Jilla’s energy coming through.” (Okay, now I was annoyed.)
Finally, the psychic told Fran she had time for one final question.
“Are there ghosts in my new house?” Fran asked. I stifled a laugh.
The psychic smiled. “No.”
Last week, I found out I didn't get the job. The psychic was right.
I’m disappointed, but also certain I did the best I could during the interview process, and I feel good about that. This one just isn’t my job, and that’s okay. Not to get all Live Laugh Love on you, but what is meant to be yours will never miss you. (Now, is that fatalism?)
On the flip side, I’m also relieved. Now I don’t have to pick up my life and move to another new city to start over, yet again. (God no, please no.) I can keep building my freelance career with refreshed energy and focus. I can take the big trip to California I have long planned because my flexible work schedule allows for it. I can keep chipping away at my freelancer to-do list, which still excites me, and makes me nervous.
I’m in the precious in-between.