I don’t know what happened. Even now, I don’t know what drove my behavior this morning.
As cliché as it sounds, the day started normally. I awoke the day after my friends’ bimonthly Game Night, groggy and determined to go grocery shopping before noon hit. When driving out of my apartment division, it takes nothing more than a turn to the left to make it to Publix half a mile later.
I got up and got dressed, tying a presentable satin scarf around my oil-soaked hair and plastic cap. I paused at random intervals, my mind still dozing as I recalled what I needed to grab from the store.
Spaghetti sauce? Need tomatoes. Pasta or rice? Got lots of brown rice. Will mix it with the leftover white rice. No need to buy more fruit; will slice into the rambutan and prickly pears when I get home.
I skipped breakfast, popped a gummy vitamin. I got in the car and drove out of my complex, out of the division, and braked at the main road junction.
Traffic cleared. I put on my blinker and eased into the flow.
Only, I turned right. I didn’t want to go left. I went right and I began to drive north.
“North,” I thought, not even hesitating to ease into the fast lane. “Just go north. Just go and keep going.”
I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing. I just knew that I was sick of spending each Sunday in my stuffy apartment, rearranging everything but cleaning nothing, working nonstop but accomplishing nothing, speaking to no one and unwilling to reach out and invite anyone into my stagnant mood.
I drove, turning right and left until I was literally lost in a catacomb of gorgeous Georgia homes, layered with brick or cut diagonally into modern, split-level styles. The neighborhoods were quiet and well-maintained, and I felt some of my sullen fog dissipate. I admired the yards with the “Best of the Month” signs, slowing down and taking camera shots when I noticed “For Sale” or “For Rent” banners.
As I slipped between residential and commercial spaces, I made a mental note of the areas I would love to live in. I even GPS’d an old property that I had found on Trulia a little over a month ago, but the neighborhood was crowded with cars on the street and would have caused me more stress than I would have liked.
Finally, the impromptu house hunting wore thin, so I turned my smartphone back towards home. The directions put me onto a three-lane road, and as I drove, the radio droning the current popular hits, my mind wandered dangerously into the current events of my life.
You know—all the generalities that hit you as you find yourself with time to think.
- Am I doing alright for a person my age? Could I do more?
- Am I living in the right apartment? The right city? The right state?
- Am I happy? Am I really, truly happy with who I am at this moment in my life?
- Am I a good friend, a good sister, a good daughter? Can I be better?
- Was that thing I was thinking of earlier selfish? Should I stop it, like, now?
- What is the point of everything I have ever done since the moment I was born?
- How can I really be fulfilled in my everyday life?
- What the hell am I supposed to do now?
The quickness with which the questions arrived did not diminish their power over me. I was used to the torrent, however, and kicked most of them under the proverbial rug as I maneuvered traffic.
I was just reaching some semi-familiar landmarks when I passed a house on the right that I had never seen before. It was nice enough, sitting on the corner beside the mouth of a standard neighborhood (not one I marked to live in), with a large sign in its front yard.
Angelia the Psychic. Palm readings. Tarot readings.
Yeah, I though. Oohkay.
How many times have we passed that house with the big, gaudy psychic sign with its phone number and the spiritual symbols urging you to call?
How many times have we, on a sudden whim for answers and direction in our cloudy, aimless meanderings, just wanted to be told that everything will be alright, even if that advice comes from some hokey, unreliable source?
How many times have we just given everything to fate and wanted the chance to get understanding that we can’t seem to find from any intimate, familiar setting?
How many times have I?
Counting this time?
The turn into the neighborhood was sharp, and I was going about 50 mph, but I made it.
Once safely parked on the curb, I dialed the number on the sign and waited, with no idea of what I was going to do or how this worked.
“Hello?” the voice said, sounding no more or less impressive than a female receptionist on a switchboard.
“Yes, hello,” I responded, and was amazed at the calmness and the professionalism in my own voice. “I was calling to speak with Angelia the, um, Psychic.”
“This is Angelia,” said the woman, her tone developing a delicate edge. I must have sounded too professional—borderline telemarketer, even.
Quickly, I explained that I had driven by, seen her sign, and was wondering if I could have a reading done.
Angelia’s tone immediately relaxed and, without sounding desperate or urgent, consented to meet with me that very afternoon. “I have an opening in half an hour. Is that alright?”
I assured her that it was, thanked her for her time, and exchanged pleasant goodbyes.
I then put my phone down, breathed, and allowed myself to realize just what in the world I had done.
Well, shoot. Half an hour to kill in a town 20 miles from home.
To be concluded on Wednesday; watch for Part Two!