When I was still in elementary school, like most kiddos, I wanted to grow up to have superpowers. I thought being able to transform into animals would be pretty awesome (I read waaayyy too many Animorphs books), but if I couldn’t have that I would have settled for being able to fly or having x-ray vision. And like most children (and some adults I know), I was deeply disappointed when I grew up and none of these special abilities came to fruition. However, life did see it fit to bless (or curse) me with one particular skill, and that is the ability to make people feel completely at ease around me, even if I have known them for all of five minutes.
There must be something about my persona that gives off the vibe to strangers that I am to be trusted with their deepest, darkest, secrets. As a counselor who interviews families on a daily basis about personal traumas, many of which contain extremely sensitive information, this comes in really handy. In my personal life though, it can be just down right awkward, and as a result I am not unaccustomed to weird conversations with people I hardly know.
When I was a senior in high school I worked as a waitress at IHOP, and had the pleasure of engaging in a long conversation with a bizarre elderly man in a ten gallon cowboy hat about how beautiful my hands were, and how he wanted to photograph them holding a pearl necklace. (At seventeen, I was savvy enough in the ways of the world to know that a “pearl necklace” could be a code word for a creepy sexual favor, never mind the fact that my fingers were usually burned from carrying hot plates and I perpetually smelled like maple syrup. Maybe the aroma of pancakes is an aphrodisiac for dirty old men, who knows?…) I was later told by a reputable source that he really was a legitimate photographer who was just “a little eccentric” (I think “a little” was an understatement).
Then when I was in college working in the registrar’s office, a middle aged woman came in and made a same day transcript request. As I was getting the necessary documents together she mentioned she needed them because she was applying to seminary. I made the usual polite comments and then she dropped the religion bomb on me-
“Do you believe in God, darling?” (She was one of those fun people who love to use terms of endearment on complete strangers…)
“I don’t really know what I believe. I guess I haven’t really figured it out yet.”
This was back during my “I’m angry with God,” and your typical “I am trying to find myself” phase. Questions like these made me really uncomfortable because they usually ended in your standard- “Oh, you don’t know Jesus? Well let me spend the next 20 minutes trying to convert you then!” type of conversation. However, I was spared that lecture and what she actually said was-
“Oh that’s okay honey, you’ll figure it out someday. I can tell by your aura that you are a very spiritual person…”
I was flabbergasted. How do you respond to someone who has just told you they can see your aura? It was truly a bizarre conversation, even more so because her words ended up being strangely prophetic. The absurdity of these conversations at the time effectively seared them permanently into my memory, never to be forgotten. This phenomenon doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it inevitably strikes a chord. I had the pleasure (or pain) of having another one of these conversations last week.
While at work the other day, (I am sensing a pattern here, all the weirdness seems to happen to me while I am working, maybe I should quit and be a hobo…) I was talking with an acquaintance who has recently discovered that she herself has some pretty awesome psychic superpowers. What started out as an ability to do her own muscle testing for supplements, similar to to what Chris does at CAaWC, has quickly developed into being able to test others even from long distances and answer questions about the future. In the course of our conversation I happened to mention I was in the process of getting divorced which, FYI, is probably not information you should casually drop around someone who is psychic, unless you are prepared to receive some crazy spiritual advice. After making the socially acceptable sympathetic remarks she then proceeded to say-
“Can I ask a question for you?” (Meaning ask a question to whatever source she taps into to get her psychic answers…)
“Sure.” At this point I was intensely curious. She went really quiet and still for a couple of seconds and then came back with-
“You can stop worrying about whether you made the right decision or not, he wasn’t your soul mate.”
Slightly skeptical, but intrigued, I couldn’t help but ask, “Well, have I at least met my soul mate then?”
Again, she got real quiet and after a few seconds-
“No, he’s not in your life yet, but your soul mate will be your companion (as opposed to a friend or a relative, which she later explained). So when you meet him DON’T SCREW IT UP!…“
You would think this would have been good news, but as I am discovering as of late, our minds are not always rational when it comes to affairs of the heart. By the time I drove home that night I was in a full blown existential crisis that sounded a little something like this…
“SHIT, what if I meet him and I don’t know it? What if I blow it and miss my chance? The world is a big place, he could be anywhere! Where in the hell should I even start looking?! What if I don’t meet him until I am like 50 years old? By that time I will probably be so cynical I will be a crazy old cat lady and he will take one look at me and head for the nearest exist. Fuck, fuck, fuck I am going to be alone for the rest of my natural life…” (Yeah, I told you it wasn’t rational. I sometimes think I am closer to the crazy cat lady scenario than I care to admit.)
Instead of being soothed I felt angry, frustrated, and incredibly and heartbreakingly lonely. It took several late nights of karaoke and copious amounts of coffee to bring me back out of my funk.
Whether I believe in prophecy or not, now that I have had a couple of days to process the experience I have decided that maybe it won’t be so bad after all. Dating and searching for “the one” could be fun when I decide to test the romantic waters again someday. As long as it doesn’t turn into a bad episode of “How I Met Your Mother” I will be fine. (I stopped watching that show after about the fourth season because I got so frustrated with it, and I am pretty sure we STILL don’t know who the mother is. If I were those kids I would smack Bob Saget for taking so fucking long to get to the point of the story…)
We already know that the superpowers of our youth don’t really exist, so maybe spiritual superpowers don’t exist either. Maybe people who claim to have them are making it all up, I dunno. The rational part of my brain wants to dismiss the whole thing as a hoax, while another, equally logical part of myself is willing to admit that there are many things in this world that I don’t fully comprehend and maybe never will. What I do know is that my own personal superpower appears to be drawing crazy people like flies to honey. Case in point, just last night on my way to the coffee shop, ironically enough to work on this very blog post, my friend John and I were accosted by a homeless man in the parking lot asking for money. Even after I told him I had no cash to share with him he thanked me and then proceeded to spend the next five minutes telling me his entire life story. Once finished, Dwayne (that was his name I learned) then said “God bless you” and asked for a group hug. Normally strangers touching me really freaks me out, but this time something inside me said “Aw, what the hell, why not?” So I hugged crazy homeless Dwayne in that coffee shop parking lot on campus at ten-o-clock at night.
At some point in your life you just have to accept what you are and embrace the madness…literally and figuratively.