Okay. Here goes. A Valentine story.
Some years ago, my good friend, Mary Mikel, and I happened to be going through divorces at about the same time. Quietly, painfully, and not so much commiserating together, but sort of feeling our way through this new kind of normal that was single at the advent of the 21st century. And I had no interest in ever – EVER – getting involved in a relationship again.
And here came Valentine’s Day with hearts and flowers and Noah’s Ark pairing up of folks. Blah! Humbug! we said. Until Mary Mikel, who is quite adventurous, said – “Hey – I have an idea. But we have to scrounge up $75 and go to Austin.”
That was a bit of a struggle but she found some middle-of-the-month money, and promised me it had nothing to do with oiled dancing men and dollar bills.
Definitely better than that. She made appointments for us with Madame Ruth, The Psychic. Yes. What a hoot. We got the full-meal deal – for a whopping $75– which included the tarot cards, the palm reading and the (you have to say it with Madame Ruth’s accent), “Kleee-stal” Ball.
Ever the reporter, I took a notepad and told MM that I would write down notes for her and she could do the same for me. It was fun and goofy and we came home no worse for the wear, but not exactly feeling like we had a life-changing experience.
Mary Mikel had written the words Madame Ruth said as she read my palm:
“You will marry again. The man you will marry is in your circle of consciousness now but you only see him as a casual friend. Be open to a life that is different from what you know. Be open to that relationship and let him into your life. I see five children: three girls and two boys.” (At this point I think I snorted -as three kids was plenty for me, thank you very much.)
“And I see some juggling and struggles but it will eventually work itself out so be patient because it will be worth it. And I see laughter in your eyes, and joy in your heart.”
Time passed. MM soon married her college sweetheart, and they are living happily ever after. I was still not too interested in the drama of dating. Much less marrying – or having more children – God forbid! I was actually kind of loving being “woman-hear me roar” and celebrating a new, albeit struggling independence – while savoring the last remnants of HalleyAnna’s childhood as she entered high school.
Several years later, Mark and I had just gotten married, after kind of a whirlwind romance that started in July with a wedding the following April. We were combining households – selling my small bungalow in SM – moving to and renovating his rustic cabin at Gruene to sell so we could get something we could all fit into. As I went through boxes in the garage, I came across that note pad from Madame Ruth’s visit.
Madame Ruth was long forgotten. We were boxing my world up to put into storage units, and moving into Mark’s 1000 square foot cabin with his 14 year old son and my 16 year old daughter. I came across that notebook. “You will have five children,” was the phrase that jumped out at me.
I counted our wonderful, truly blended family of Jenni, Sterling and HalleyAnna + DeLynn and Patrick, who had fallen into the coolest bunch of friends anyone could dream of for any siblings… and I said, “Hey Mark – look at this.”
Yes. He had been in my “circle of consciousness” for a long while. We had known each other at the time of Madame Ruth and long before – but only casually- I had been an editor at a couple of area newspapers, and he was the news information director for the university – and, in fact, we had worked for the same paper at different times but we had never worked together. And all the way back in our 20s and early 30s, we sort of knew one another by name or occupation, as we’d managed bars only blocks from each other — Cheatham Street for me and the Long Branch Saloon for him.
At the time of Madame Ruth’s Valentine’s Day, we were in a quasi-professional organization that met for lunch about once a month to discuss public affairs and local rumors. He was struggling to raise his two kids alone. The LAST thing on his mind was a relationship with anyone. He was up to his neck in being the best single parent he could be.
Time passed. Long after Madame Ruth and that Valentine’s Day. To that day in the garage when I found that notebook.
Weird. But I have to admit she hit the nail on the head. Today, I do have laughter in my eyes and joy in my heart. And this life is certainly different – 180 degrees from before. Crazy, right?
Psychics? “Klee-stal Balls?” They are for people like Loretta Lynn and Nancy Reagan – and the National Enquirer. It was a hoot. And kind of spooky – but in a good way – like Ouiji boards at slumber parties. And it was a Valentine’s Day to remember.
And I guess this is where I say, “And they lived happily ever after.” 🙂
But mostly I think Madame Ruth had good advice when she said, “Be open to a life that is different.”
Happy Valentine’s Day.