There is a palm reader on the third floor of an old building in San Francisco.
I saw her once, & was received by the alarming odor of alcohol, cigarettes & lust.
She wore a purple dress with her breasts squeezed so tightly together that one glance made her cleavage resemble a black hole. Her heavy earrings, smoky makeup and analytical demeanor added to the false mysticism in the air.
She called me beautiful when I walked in. “You too,” was all the common courtesy I could muster.
I don’t know why I went there. But I wondered if that was how psychics & spiritual people spent their free time.
She said I was “too vulnerable” for this world. That I would spend the rest of my life “giving but not getting.”
She said I needed 12 candles burning for 90 days to give me my life-transforming message, all for the affordable price of 1500 dollars.
I thanked her for her time & left a bill next to the bottle of vodka.
I wondered if, to the world, being tough meant being street smart.
I don’t know why her words stayed with me. But I am flesh & bone on autopilot. A mass of contradictions receiving unearned compliments from strangers who don’t know the demons I deal with.
In theory, I am still tough. Still thick-skinned still accomplished still the life of the party. In practice, I am only breathing. In theory, I lay my bare bones on your fractured chest & write unpublished poetry on the corner of Davis & California street. In practice, I am three thousand miles away. And you are not a fan of maps.