Reality Check

Another sunny day in LA, surrounded by shamans. At least I always was. We were playing with tarot cards. By play, I mean cheating death. I’d already pulled the Wheel of Fortune, the High Priestess, and the Devil. So who knows if I’d make it out alive.

“Wind chimes chime to give us a sign,” she chanted, “a sign that she’s on the right track.”

Fuck. Is this what my life has come down to? A wind chime, my road map? We were in a tiny cottage filled with witchy things: crystals, voodoo dolls, dream catchers, Ganesha, Mother Mary, chakra charts, black magic signs, happy buddhas, laughing buddhas, fat buddhas, skinny buddhas, buddhas with no hands, buddhas with one hand in prayer. The room was a mixed metaphor of modalities.

I was wearing my silk tunic from New Zealand, hand-stitched by Maori. It fell softly around my hungry body. She had a shaved head and black, dewy skin, like melting chocolate. She was wearing black spandex, dripping in crystals from head to toe. She had a tiny stud piercing above her lip, right under her nose. My mom told me piercings broke your body’s natural energy flow, which is why she didn’t let me get my ears pierced. I rebelled and got holes in high school. So now I’m a holy motherfucker. I liked to torment my mother. I still do. But now I sat there thinking, Fuck—maybe this witch has no energy flow.

There was no electricity. The only light was the sunlight peeking in through the tiny window above me, striking me, reassuring me that I wasn’t about to be locked in some cottage dungeon and sacrificed to the Peruvian devil-man. Palo santo was burning, filling the room with a smoky, piney smell. It smelled like magic.

We sat at a tiny table, overcrowded with esoterica, on even tinier stools, across from one another. She was a lot bigger than I am, but that’s always how these shamans are. They absorb and carry everyone’s weight, everyone’s shit. I always felt reassured by a fat healer. It was the skinny ones who worried me. It’s always the skinny ones.

She had a tiny bed in the back. I couldn’t believe she slept there. Man, was she committed, in the head and to the process. Maybe I was the committed one, coming here. I always do this to myself. I always need someone to give me validation, someone to lead me in a certain direction. I never liked what they said or where they pointed me, anyway. I’m an intuitive person—so why can’t I trust myself? Maybe I need to eat more probiotics and fermented foods. That’s what my acupuncturist said. There I go again, following someone else’s lead.

I looked around the room, making eye contact with all the buddhas. They were judging me. I looked back at her, her eyes dazed into a different dimension. I sat waiting for the chime, for the sign. I don’t know if I even wanted a sign. But maybe I did. Some direction. Something to hold on to.

The room was so silent I could hear my green juice trickling through my esophagus. It was so still I felt my heartbeat might knock me off the shearling-covered stool I was mystically perched upon. The only noise was my inner cynicism tormenting me.

“I didn’t hear anything,” I said to her, breaking the silence. “Did you?” She shrugged. She didn’t have anything to say to me. I ran out into the sunshine, hat and shades in hand, a little poorer and a little more lost.

I can’t wait until it rains—a rainy day, binging on Netflix, escaping into someone else’s reality.

Zoe Messinger’s writing has been published in ONTHEBUS.