This second life

Throughout high school and for an embarrassing number of years afterwards, I was a voracious reader of horoscopes and believer in dark-sided fluff. Yesterday I noticed an old book on my bedside table on how to read tarot cards that my husband found when he cleaned underneath our bed last month. He’s the tidy, efficient clutter buster of our family and I’m the self-trained retired fortune teller.

The reason I bring this up is because Paul wrote this line about being in recovery in this excellent post:

We get to live two lives in one lifetime…how great is that?

When I read this line, I suddenly found myself on the rain soaked boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, circa 1988. My best friend and I were killing what the movie theaters down there call a Bad Beach Day and spending every last soaking wet, crumpled dollar in our pockets. This would have been after I discovered alcohol but before I could get into bars, so we had to get our kicks in arcades and shirt shops. I saw the fluorescent-lit sign of an outlined palm in a storefront window and the sign for $10 Readings and convinced my friend to duck inside with me.

I was expecting someone more exotic than the sleepy eyed, olive-skinned girl who didn’t look much older than me. She asked for my $10 up front and invited me to sit across from her at a smudged-glass table while a toddler played quietly with toy cars on the floor by her feet.

the only picture I have from that day…

Her reading took less than 10 minutes and this is what I remember: She told me I would have two children. (She was correct.) She told me I have a strong heart line. (I am not sure what this means but I tear up at christmas commercials, so this also sounds correct.) She also told me she saw a distinct split in my life line, which meant I would undergo a major life change around midlife. 

I puzzled over that one for a long time. Would I get divorced? Would something terrible happen to someone I love? Would I get sick or lose my fortune in the stock market and have to start all over? Interesting to note I never imagined it would be something positive, like landing a dream job or, uh, getting sober.

If I was going to get into the business of selling fortunes to high school girls at the beach, I would stick to similarly safe predictions. One husband, 2.0 kids, a long life with strong health and, oh, a big change around midlife to give you something to look forward to, or – for those with silent, low-grade anxiety – a lifelong fear of the other shoe dropping.

I am 40 years old and I am sober with roughly/possibly the second half of my life ahead of me. Even if it’s the half that includes not being able to get around and relying on others to feed and care for me (oh wait), I still have some good years ahead. I know this because my parents sent a birthday card and my dad’s note said  “I know turning 40 can be depressing, but you still have some good years ahead.” And my brother sent an email welcoming me over the hill like it was some kind of club for cool/sad people. Neither one will be recruited by Hallmark, but they are mine and I love them.

As another blogger said in a comment (and I paraphrase), our forties can be a good time to accomplish shit. And I totally love this concept. Basically, I have a whole decade before me as a blank slate. I am not drinking, so I have my full faculties about me (this could be argued, but…) and a mild case of delusion that I could accomplish anything I put full effort into. Maybe I will do more writing, which is what I really want to do when I grow up, or maybe I will study up to become a beach fortune teller. Possibilities are sky high when it comes to career and giving back and self-growth and more things I haven’t thought of yet. So lovely to feel free and full of hope instead of just old, though I feel that too. Everything all at once, this life thing.

12 thoughts on “This second life

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  1. Welcome to the other side of the hill where the smell of burning candles takes on a whole new meaning. May your second life catch you smiling most of the time.


  2. Yes ma’am, getting old can be scary but it’s all about perspective. Remember what Jessica Simpson said about aging, “Twenty three is old. It’s almost twenty five, which is like almost mid-twenties.”


  3. I know that exact spot and often thought about going in and getting a reading but was too scared. I finally got one year’s later at a different location and it was so accurate it freaked me out and I never went back.

    You have a lot more than a few years left…at least I hope so…I’m only 52 and I have a lot more left.

    I miss O.C.! That’s “my” beach and I miss it terribly. Thrasher’s Fries and Dolly’s Taffy (and popcorn). The Art Gallery. The Brass Balls and of course The Purple Moose Saloon!!!

    Sigh…I think I need a road trip.



  4. “Maybe I will do more writing, which is what I really want to do when I grow up, ” I was laughing at this, because I have said the same thing…this whole thing about growing up. I still feel like I am a kid at times (esp. when I have a tantrum), and still look forward to that magical time when I am all grown up and will be doing *things*. You know, those *grown up* things that only grown ups do? So what the hell have those last 43 years of mine been? Oh yeah…

    Happy Birthday! And you know, 40 ain’t nothing no more (mind the double negative). It’s just the beginning, as far as I am concerned. I do feel old at times, but I think that is just from the long, weary battle we all have had. I think of this next stage as healing and getting warmed up for the next act. I have NO idea what that next act will be, but I am looking forward to it. And I can’t wait to hear how yours is going to turn out. It’s going to be a beauty 🙂

    Thanks for the shout out and a wonderful post here, K.



  5. If I missed your birthday (and I’m thinking I did, based on this post), happy belated! Fortune telling is scary stuff, but it sounds like I may need to take a ride down to OCMD and see if that woman is still peddling her gift, she knows what she is talking about!

    Thanks for this hopeful message, and I don’t think it is delusion, you can do anything you put your mind to! Thanks for the inspiration!


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