This isnâ€™t my real life. It canâ€™t be. In my real life, I donâ€™t read Cosmopolitan magazine, I donâ€™t obsessively check my horoscope, and I certainly donâ€™t go to fortune tellers.
Maybe it was a bad day, or week, or the accumulation of six long, frustrating months â€“ but when a friend approached me one evening at work and asked if I wanted to go to a fortune teller, I was more enthusiastic than I ever expected. What did I have to lose, other than a few dollars?
One friend (Iâ€™ll call her â€œFâ€) is devoutly religious and felt a little guilty about having her fortune told â€“ considered a pagan activity by her church. She didnâ€™t seem to mind the guilt though. F had already been to two fortune tellers in the last month, but wasnâ€™t satisfied with her readings. That night she wanted to know about her love life in the coming year. The other friend (â€œSâ€) was going through a bad breakup and breakups can make a girl do crazy things, like visit fortune tellers.
Me on the other hand, I had no excuse. I just wanted to try it out and maybe get a little insight into this making-life-decisions thing that I havenâ€™t gotten the hang of yet.
We arrived at a bar where we could have our fortune told while getting liquored up. (How convenient for the fortune teller, I thought.) We had the choice between a tarot card reader and what the waiter called an â€œintuitive reader.â€ We ordered drinks and the tarot card reader; she didnâ€™t cost as much as the intuitive reader.
When our reader arrived, F enthusiastically volunteered to go first. S wanted some time to decide whether she wanted to hear what this womanâ€™s cards said about her. There is the chance that something bad will be said, and that was the last thing S needed.
The reader told F that her hard work would finally pay off at work this year and that she would be well rewarded. Despite the good reading, F wasnâ€™t happy. She kept asking questions.
â€œYes, but will I meet a man this year,â€ F asked.
â€œUm, well, yesâ€¦â€ the reader said.
â€œOK, then, will I meet anyone interesting this year?â€
â€œWill I fall in love?!â€
â€œThatâ€™s difficult to tell. It is probable that you will.â€
Clearly frustrated with her less-than-stellar love report, F eventually gave up. S decided to have her tarot cards read. As S listened, stiff lipped, clearly holding back her emotions, the reader told her there was good news: She would meet three men this year. Sâ€™s face lit up. F frowned.
â€œBut what about me?â€ F asked. I held back a laugh.
One satisfied customer, one unsatisfied. I would be the tie breaker.
As the card reader arranged my cards in a pattern that probably means something to people who know about things like tarot cards, I thought about what I would ask. The only thing on my mind was my job, and if I had made the right decision when I moved to the Philippines. In past weeks thoughts of decisions I could have made had looped through my head.
â€œYour cards are all very positive and strong,â€ the tarot card reader said.
I asked her about my job, my decision to move to Manila, my future career.
â€œItâ€™s all good. Youâ€™re right where you should be.â€
This woman doesnâ€™t know anything, I thought. But as she spoke about the people who have reentered my life recently and the people whoâ€™ve always been there â€“ I started to get sucked into the process. Choosing cards, flipping them over, asking a question. The reader didnâ€™t give answers â€“ she gave hints and clues. I liked trying to interpret the vague answers, like some sort of game.
My reading was finished in 15 minutes. S and F were chatting, comparing notes about their readings.
We invited our reader to drink with us. We chatted and ate chicken wings. At the end of the night I felt lighter, like I had been through the fortune telling equivalent of a therapy session. It could have been that I just needed to put into words what had been bothering me for months, or it could have been the vodka tonics, but for a moment I believed the tarot card reader â€“ her assertions, her confident statements about my life.
But, I told myself, itâ€™s OK to believe in tarot card readings when Iâ€™m not living my real life. Just like itâ€™s OK to believe that my astrological sign is best suited for friendships with Libra and Gemini. But only now, not in the other version of my life.