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.
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.