lucky

Coming back from lunch yesterday I was walking down Sutter holding a latte, in a grand, introspective, post-birthday mood—despite the weather, cold and gray. I was fumbling in my bag for my phone, needing to check the time and wondering if I was running late. I looked up, and a guy coming toward me—a nicely-dressed, normal looking guy in a suit—veered out of his path and cut right in front of me. I stopped, startled, with my phone in my hand. He leaned close and said, "You. You’re a very lucky person."

I slowed, paused, stared at him wide-eyed for a moment, and he opened his mouth again. I yelped and dodged around him and flung myself into the Fresh store, examining $60 candles extremely carefully, until my heart stopped strumming and I was sure he had found some other woman to drag into a dressing room at Banana Republic to eat her heart out of her chest. I did not really think he was going to scoop my liver from the hollow of my body, but it was still hard to breathe and my heart was fluttering and I don’t know why.

This has happened to me once before. Six years ago, I was living in New
Jersey, in a relationship that was bad for me and just bad, and I was
unhappy in my life—feeling stagnant, directionless, lost and unsure. I
was in a job at a start-up company that was sucking the life out of
me, and which just sucked, and which I sucked at. There was no
structure, I wasn’t even sure what my job description was and what I
was supposed to be doing, exactly, and every morning, I had a panic
attack, thinking about going in to the office again and trying to
figure out how to do a job which may or may not have actually existed.
Every single second of my life, I wished it didn’t exist.  Sometimes I
wished I didn’t.

I was looking for a way out, a way to change everything and shake
everything up. Tear it all apart and throw the pieces in the air, and
let them land where they would. I had a visit planned to San Francisco.
It was just supposed to be a visit—four days, I think. But my secret
plan, the one in my heart, the one I didn’t tell the people I was
visiting, or tell my boyfriend, was that I was seeing if San Francisco
was a place I would want to move to, give up my life for. Giving up my
life did not sound difficult, but—you wear a groove in your life, and
it’s a comfortable place, and hard to haul yourself out of. Was it
really something I could do? I was just toying with the idea.

The day before I left, I was walking down Fifth Avenue when a woman
standing by the curb called to me. "You’re going to California," she
said. "And it’s going to change your entire life." I slowed, paused,
stared at her wide-eyed. “You’re going soon,” she said. “Tomorrow,” I
said. “Do you want to know more?” she asked me. Of course I did. Tell
me that everything is going to be wonderful. Tell me that this is a
decision I should be making, the right decision, the only possible
decision, the most brilliant plan anyone has ever had in the history of
plans. “Oh, yes,” I said.  She asked me for $20, because as
it turns out, she was a psychic, and I did not have $20.
"Come back when you can," she told me, and gave me her flyer, and I swore
I would, but when I got home, it was gone from my bag. But that was
really all I needed.

I flew to California, and loved the city, and found that there were
decent MFA programs, and applied, and accepted, and broke the news to
my boyfriend that I was going by myself, and I moved. Five years later,
my life is entirely changed, and it was hard and awful sometimes and
often lonely, but it remains the best decision I ever made. I think
about that woman a lot, and sometimes wish I could find her and ask her
what’s next. What do I do now? Do I stay here? Do I go? Tell me what I
do to change my entire life. Sometimes I am sure I do not want to know,
because that sounds like the worst possible thing that could happen to
me. Haven’t I had enough change? Can I breathe for awhile, please?

The guy on Sutter did not ask me for money, or give me a flyer. He just
smiled at me, as if we were both very happy that I am so lucky, and I
am not sure why it scared me so much. He’s as right as that woman in
New York was—I am lucky. It is true that I am lucky, and true that I do
not remember that often enough.

One Reply to “lucky”

  1. Wow. That is kinda freaky, you know?
    But last time you were accosted in this way it turned out to be true. And good.
    So, hey, I can’t wait to hear in what ways the coming days and weeks and months and years turn out lucky for you.
    I already had no doubt they would, but now it seems confirmed.

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