Our appointment was at 7 p.m. It was 6:57, and we were at a Mockingbird Lane intersection trying to make out the house number for our destination. We were pretty sure we were outside the right home, and in a flash the lights turned on and the house number was illuminated.
"Oh my God, she knows we are out here!" I exclaimed in the car.
"Guys, our appointment is at 7 p.m. Of course she knows we are out here," replied a more practical voice in the vehicle.
It's a new year and it seems as though we have finally hit a national consensus regarding the lameness of resolutions. Still, there is big business in self-reflection, and taking a little time during the first 31 days to chart out a course for the new year is something I have always taken seriously. It may be because I am also a Capricorn, so the anniversary of my existence and the new year all come wrapped up in a post-holiday bow and it makes for prime occasion to consider what I want out of this next year.
Generally when pondering these questions, I turn to the same congress we all tend to: the friend who knows everything, or therapist, perhaps. Sometimes I turn to pillow talk, inebriated talk, the journal I didn't keep or my own chatty internal monologue. This year I turned to the mystics.
So at 7 p.m., just days after the new year began, two girlfriends and I found ourselves in the waiting room of Psychic Ann Newman and Associates. She reads palms, she reads cards, she has a real-deal crystal ball, she reads runes and she reads your aura. "I read until I don't see anything more," she told us, "and then you can ask up to three questions."
I have dabbled in these waters before and for those who are curious or intimidated, I'd like to help make these experiences a little more hospitable. If I must choose a favorite practice, it is the tarot cards since they are really just a vehicle for self-reflection. If I must recommend a favorite reader, it's Megan Benanti (whom you can find at tarotdallas.com).
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Warm and intuitive, her readings are inviting and comfortable and allow for further exchange. She reads the cards, but she makes a space for conversation. Three girlfriends and I took notes for each other and, over dinner afterward, rehashed what the cards brought up. They were some of the most intimate conversations of my life. I turned to Benanti for advice on how to choose one's own psychic experience. "Make a list of things you would like to know or work on for self-improvement. Your psychic is there to help you find your solutions, whether past, present or future," she said. This is important because when they ask you for your first of three questions, you will always draw a blank.
"Every psychic has a different style," she continued, "so some tell you everything they see about your future. Some help you work through current issues. Their style of reading should be clear on their website. For example, I use the tarot cards, because I'm so visually drawn to images in the card decks. I even have the client select their deck in a mystery bag before their reading, because the pictures on the decks vary from one to another. What they choose and what I see both matter."
There is a theory I have heard about coupling, in which we all inevitably choose someone who will tear away at our childhood wounds. We do this because we are anxious in some way to heal these wounds and this is a way of practicing that. I have no idea if it's true, but I am reminded of it when I go through the process of choosing a psychic experience and when I think of my questions. I wonder if this is another way to practice healing and try to know myself. And then what?
Ann Newman took me from her Celtic waiting room. The carpet was a deep emerald green and there were tokens and treasures and a toy leprechaun in the corner. She led me into a private room to read my palms. This would cost me $50. She knew I was a writer and told me I will write three books. I remembered disclosing this information to her, though. She hit some things on the head and then told me I need to stop acting on impulse.
I was born a meticulous planner. Acting on impulse is actually something I actively try to do more of in my life. And with that bit I admittedly sort of checked out.
More vagueness for my girlfriends. We left kind of disappointed. I didn't feel known the way I have felt in the past after a card reading from Benanti or even the palm reader set up at Dolly Python. But we did get to see the crystal ball.
Later we went to Blind Butcher. Seeing Tony Bricker behind a new bar was comforting in the way we wanted the night to be.
We rehashed, wondering if we'd been scammed, tallying the money she'd made in the hour of our visit.
But then as conversation unfolded, we each remembered little details that she got exactly right. The intimate failings of some of our relationships and financial endeavors. Secret plans we had only written down and never shared. Insecurities we already knew but never told each other until Newman brought them up privately.
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Together we could ask more than three questions. We realized that one of our readings, the one belonging to that skeptical and practical voice in the vehicle, was actually strangely attuned.
And I do have some new ideas about the new year now. If you want to predict the future, just make it yourself.