I don't believe it. I watched it--filmed it even--but I still don't believe it. Every day for thirty-five weeks and two days I mentally rehearsed it, all the ins and outs (pun intended). But I guess the truth is I never really believed it would come to pass. All my life I've created things, many times with the intent of making them beautiful. But I'm suddenly embarrassed by the marks I've left to date. Those things--those songs, that book, that software, those paintings—are ugliness incarnate. I've made something, a writhing, pink and wrinkly gorgeous something, that puts them all to shame. How could God give this power to everybody?! How can I ever create anything again and think of it as beautiful? What a frightening new standard we’ve set.
Some nine or ten years ago, when I was trying to deal with Life After Keta, I went to a psychic--a British woman named Lori who operated out of the basement of her daughter's house in Warwick, RI. Her body and her face were a tad overly made-up (but in the way you really want your old people to be overly made-up). I don’t know how to put it other than that her face was like a hearth to me. Her eyes were the fireplace of that face, warming me but keeping me at bay. When she began her auguring, those eyes transformed into glassy pools of still lake water, holding me, suspended. These words read like 9th grade poetry to me, but they’re the most accurate words for her. Her eyes literally sparkled. And when she said my name, it sounded like honey: "Gaahvaan." I'll never forget it. Every time she said it, I was a house cat, raising my back to meet her voice. "M'love," she called me.
She told me that she'd had five visions of Christ in her life. She told me the spirit world was all around us and that our loved ones never really leave us. She held my hands like they were made of gossamer while we said a prayer. Then she held my keys and tilted her head towards the faux-everything chandelier, narrowing her eyes into slits and letting her hands dance left and right, conducting some symphony that only she could hear. She spoke to her spirit guides, Running Water (a Native American) and Dr. John Forbes, who were consulting the spirits surrounding me in an attempt to understand my life.
Many times in the reading she said to me, "Your life is shown to me like a jigsaw puzzle. They're showing me the pieces of your life, Gavin." These words were air conditioning in my skull. I was so still.
She told me that I was going to have a second chance with Keta and that one of us would have to choose between two relationships.
She told me that a more lucrative career (back then I'd somehow gotten it into my head that I should try to be a musician!) would rise up and challenge the one I was in. She told me I would have to decide. But she warned me that God gives you talents, and if you don't use them, it's like throwing them back in his face.
She told me that I shouldn't move west until the middle of the following year.
She told me that my grandfather almost died when he was a baby and was only saved "by the grace of God."
She told me that my cousin's husband's friend would hurt his knee in a skiing accident.
She asked me about Florida, and then Boston, “What do they mean to you?”
She told me that my guides wanted me to concentrate more on money than my love life for a while.
She told me that Keta was flying to the Orient soon with a friend or sister, and that she was very nervous about flying, but that she would land safely.
She told me that my mother would "have a strong love one day. She may not want it, but she'll have the opportunity."
Then she told me that I would have a baby girl.
When she said this, there was a knotted lung deep in me somewhere that finally exhaled. I never knew it was there, but when it finally let go I realized I had been holding that breath since I was fourteen or fifteen. And I thought: "huh. ya. a girl. of course." Truthfully, it had never occurred to me somehow, but it was the answer to everything. I'd always been stressed about the relationship I would have with my son. But having a girl seemed like a completely different (and much simpler) ballgame. Daughters LOVE their dads.
When the reading was over, I wrote her a check for $50 and thanked her profusely. I bound out to my car, weightless. I remember thinking that I would've paid $400 for that feeling. It didn't matter to me if the whole thing was a farce; I didn't even care if she was truly British. It only mattered that for those fifty-six minutes, in that little house speckled with knick-knacks and New England Patriots paraphernalia, I was able to zoom out of the pit I'd been in. I was able to believe that there was this other perspective from which to view my life--one where you see the whole thing, beginning to end, and muse about the highs and lows of it. You don't get so caught up in any particular valley because you can just take note at how it climbs into a peak over yonder. Maybe it was less Slaughterhouse Five and more One by Richard Bach, but you get the idea.
I just remember thinking, "I have to hold this position for as long as I can. I have to keep this aerial view of things." It was only days later that I came crashing down from that lofty mindset...I can't remember what set me off. No, I can: that guy Keta was with at the time...Ben? Ben. Got a record deal. Haha, a "record deal." Geez. Had the psychic only said a word or two about the future of the record industry, I would've realized that I couldn't design a more fitting revenge for that guy than a record deal.
And now my little Zoey is finally here: ten potato bug toes, ten inchworm fingers, two tiny seashell ears, two eyes that refuse to let me in yet, and one nose that is clearly my fault. And for the first time in ten years I feel like I did that day I left the psychic's house--weightless.