A Psychic Valentine

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.

Not actually Madame Ruth.

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.” 🙂

It’s true.

But mostly I think Madame Ruth had good advice when she said, “Be open to a life that is different.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

My Heart In Your Hands

"The only dream that mattered had come true..."

It’s a simple red, leather journal, thick with memories and promises, dreams, and dares, and the opening chapters of a happily-ever-after love story.

The unedited version.

Once in a while, I read back through the pages of this book.  My gift to you on the occasion of our first Christmas together. Our first emails and notes are glued to the pages, quilted together with song lyrics and poetry and notes in the margins.

Our paths had crossed many times before we started dating. More than a parallel universe, at times it seems we traveled two lanes of the same highway, heading in the same direction.

In those early days, we grew together as friends  as we cautiously mended our broken wings and cynical hearts.  With baby steps, we carefully introduced one another to our worlds.  We had doubts along the way. We wondered if it was worth the effort. And we laughed. A lot. And I learned that love can be easy. And  life really can be seamless.

In our wedding vows, we said to one another, “You are my best friend, my last first kiss, my coat from the cold, and the great love of my life. In all ways and forever. And nine days. That is my vow to you.”

Today, we celebrate seven years. And truly, I’d wish for seventy more years in this. Realistically, we know we won’t get that, but we have had a chance to see what all those folks have been painting and dancing and writing and singing about for thousands of years. True love.   It’s easy. And it’s worth it.

“Let the world stop turning, let the sun stop burning,
Let them tell me love’s not worth going through.
If it all falls apart, I will know deep in my heart
The only dream that mattered had come true.
In this life, I was loved by you.
– Mike Reid, Allen Shamblin

As I archived and clipped and glued and scribbled notes in the margins, I came to the last pages of that journal.  I couldn’t – no, wouldn’t think of a way to fill the final page. It is a book of beginnings.

Someday, I hope our children and their children will stumble across this story of how we came to find the great love of our lives. I wish for each of them one true love. And the chance to feel – if only for one moment in forever – the way I feel about you.

Happy anniversary, Mark.

Happily ever after. We’re living the dream.

Listening to: Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – “In This Life”