Lately, I’ve had a lot of questions about my life and what I should do with it. Do I want to write or act? Travel or stay in NYC? Marry Zac Efron or marry Chase Crawford?
These are challenging questions that I’m not equipped to answer on my own. I need guidance. Psychic guidance.
It’s time to go to Cassadaga.
Settled by a group of Spiritualists from Pike, NY in 1894, The Cassadaga Spiritualist camp is not a typical stop for tourists hitting the Orlando-Disney circuit. It’s in the woods off of I-4, by a lake that has “unusual energy properties”. The camp is home to about 90 certified mediums and healers who give readings at pretty good prices, considering the price people are willing to pay for this sort of stuff. There is a bookstore, cafe, a small hotel and three short streets lined with good old-fashioned southern homes.
My two pals, Amy and Brittany, and I arrived a little after seven P.M. Unfortunately, we discovered that even psychics like to keep normal business hours.
I asked Amy if she thought if we’d still be able to get a reading even though it was after hours.
“Somehow psychic doesn’t scream 9 to 5 to me.” Good point.
We snooped around the porch of the closed bookstore, aimlessly looking for a sign or flyer that could lead us to a psychic. We ended up finding a small information center located behind the bookstore. The lights were still on and it sounded like people were inside. I gave Amy a nudge and suggested she go in first. She awkwardly pushed open the door and interrupted about five people sitting in a circle discussing ghost orbs.
“Can I help you?” asked a tall man with red cheeks and the most amazing handlebar mustache ever.
“Um, can we come in?” asked Amy. We were already inside.
“Uh, Sarah.” Alright Amy. Pass the awkward off to me.
“Sure, Sarah can come in! But only Sarah. The two of you have to stay outside.” He was joking but we were too dazed by his mustache to realize it. “So Sarah. What are you looking for?”
“A reading?” The badge pinned to his shirt said Official Cassadaga tour guide.
“Yep. We have those here. Most of our mediums work during the day but we do have one that works at night. His name is Thomas and he’s across the street. Go over and ring the bell. If he doesn’t answer he’s probably with someone. Just wait and he’ll come out. If you’re interested, we also do night-time orb tours. Tomorrow’s tour is going to be a good one. Got a lot of people coming for it. Gonna be plenty of energy orbs. You all should come too!” His exuberance was unparalleled. “Lately, there’s been a bunch of activity with the fairies, elves… ” He looked at me and gave me a big grin, as though he were saving this next one especially for me, “and trolls. Do you believe in trolls, Sarah?”
“Then let me show you something.” He gestured for the three of us to follow him to his desk. He pulled out a thick binder full of photos taken on the orb tour. “See this little guy? That’s our troll. He was out last night, bouncing all around.” The photo was of a tree, taken at night, and sitting on one of the branches was a yellow glob of light. It strangely appeared to have the facial features of an old Brother’s Grimm troll.
“Huh.” I said. I didn’t know what to make of that.
Mr. Handlebar flipped through all the photos, explaining all the spirits and fairies caught on film. The photos looked authentic enough but I figured most of these spirits were brought back to earth by people who don’t know how to use the flash on their camera.
While the photos were interesting, we weren’t there to do no troll hunting. We said good-bye to Mr. Handlebar and headed across the street to meet Thomas.
“I’m not paying more than 40 dollars,” announced Amy. Amy was planning to lie to him to test his abilities. She had created an elaborate back story and was confident she could fool him.
“It’s going to be more than 40 dollars,” I said. Brittany, who was experiencing Cassadaga for the first time, chimed in and said that she wasn’t going to pay more than 20 dollars. “Maybe you’ll get palm reading for that price but not a psychic reading,” I told her, even though I knew it didn’t matter. The idea of Brittany participating in a psychic reading was ridiculous. She’s too practical of a person to believe in this stuff. I imagined her reading ending in a completely calm and rational argument of logic vs. the metaphysical.
We marched up the brick stairs leading to Thomas’s front door and huddled together under his awning. “That seems like an excessive use of exclamation marks,” Brittany said, pointing to a small handwritten note taped under the doorbell.
SASE RING DOOR BELL
LONG AND HARD
IF I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!! THEN I CAN’T
I pressed the doorbell and held it for a borderline obnoxious amount of time. No answer. I rang the bell again. The door opened and a man, slightly shorter than me and looking more like a fish bait salesman than a psychic, stepped out.
“Can I do something for you, mmmyes?”
Oh my God. It’s the Slingblade of Cassadaga.
“How much for a reading?” I asked.
I looked at Amy with surprised glee. 40 dollars!? I said with my eyes. That’s your cut off price! I ignored her flat and unenthusiastic face and said “We’ll do it!”
“Wait in here.” He opened his door wider to let us in. We stepped into his unlit patio that he had turned into a makeshift waiting room, complete with uncomfortable chairs and old magazines. He disappeared into his house and left us alone to quietly ponder the questions posed by the religious paraphernalia cluttering the room. “Heaven or Hell?” asked one of the posters tacked to the wood-paneled wall.
“I think I’m going to pass,” said Amy.
“What?” I knew I couldn’t count on Brittany to leap into the future with me but I didn’t think Amy would bail. She was my partner in all of this! The one who, just a few hours earlier at Subway, was telling me her mischievous plan to thwart the psychic. “I was born in Massachusetts. Salem. Wait no, Deerfield. Salem’s too suspicious. And my grandmother’s name, Patsy. She was a seamstress.”
“Died in the war.”
With Amy out, I felt trapped. I didn’t know what to do. This night was about getting answers to all the questions I ever had about my life. I couldn’t quit now. I was desperate to hear that my future contained phrases like “Oscar Winner” and “Married to George Clooney”. But with the uneasy feeling we were getting from Thomas, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend 40 bucks on a potentially lame reading.
Before I could decide what to do, I heard the hinge on the house door squeak. “Ready?” Thomas grunted.
I couldn’t make up a lie quick enough so I said, “Yep!” Amy and Brittany shot me a WTF are you thinking look and I shrugged my shoulders. We did come all this way. Might as well go whole hog.
The screen door slammed behind me. I was officially in Thomas’s lair. Lair may sound dramatic but that’s what it felt like I was entering. I didn’t know what nefarious objects I would come upon. Medieval torture tools… a functioning meth lab… a corner designated to his taxidermy hobby…
Or, I’ll find the sweetest little dog ever and a collection of Shirley Temple commemorative china plates.
“You like my dog, yes?” His speech pattern was so unusual that even though he spoke clearly I still had a hard time understanding him.
“You like my dog, yes?” He repeated himself, which initially I thought was odd. But as I started put it together, his collection of knickknacks, the note with broken syntax on the door, his aversion to eye contact, I realized that he must have Asperger’s.
And getting a reading from a psychic with Asperger’s only means it’s going to be THE BEST PSYCHIC READING EVER.
After asking one question (where I was from), Thomas started throwing down. He immediately brought up how worried I’ve been about my family and noted the reasons for my concern…A mom with cancer who needs help taking care of my younger brother*. He mentioned dates that would only have significance to me. Announced a trip to the Jacksonville area and how he senses a north coast connection. (Uh yeah. I was born there and just planned a trip to visit in Dec. Say what!). It was all so specific and accurate. I was amazed. I couldn’t wait to hear what other things I had coming my way in 2011. A Golden Globe nomination? A trip to India?
“You’re getting married. Next year.”
Um, okay. That’s exciting to hear. I guess. Slight problem though.
“I’m not dating anyone,” I said, offering the only piece of insight into my personal life.
“Doesn’t matter. It’s a strong marriage.”
Oh good. At least my out-of-the-blue and completely impulsive marriage is a strong one.
Suddenly, two phones started ringing, his cell phone and his house phone. He excused himself to take the calls, placing the reading on hold.
Normally, I would have laughed off such a ridiculous prediction but since he’s been right about everything else, I have to take this seriously. Married by next year?! To whom?! Is it Zac or Chase? Or does George come back into my life, years after our last kiss goodbye, apologizing with Princess Diana’s engagement ring? Tell me Thomas!!!
“I’m sorry. I have to cut this short. Just pay me 20 dollars.”
Excuse me, what? You’re going to tell me I’m getting married next year and then cut off my reading?!
I dumbly put twenty dollars on the table and left. Didn’t even try to question or protest it.
Now I don’t know what to do. Should I go back in a couple of weeks and get part two of my reading? Or should I see if he remembers me, get a reading from scratch and see if marriage comes up again? Or should I just let fate take over and marry the first guy I date in 2011?
Also, here are some photos I took from a previous day trip to Cassadaga.
*Mom’s officially cancer free as of a week ago. Yay!