excerpt from “Adventures with a Psychic,” chapter one of
Adventures of a Soul: Psychics, Mediums, the Mystical, and Me 

… A few weeks later, I found myself headed into the lobby of Patricia’s small brick apartment building. I was excited at the prospect of finally experiencing a bona fide psychic reading. But my hopes ran far deeper than that.

More than a decade out of college, I still felt like a daydreaming girl, living mostly in my head and waiting for my real life to begin. And though my thirty-plus years on the planet had delivered more heartbreaks than a rom-com film festival, it wasn’t just about men. I’d had a few interesting editorial jobs after leaving my gig at the Off-Broadway theater, but I kept getting laid off. I was trying to write plays and short stories, but lately I’d become totally blocked. Writing felt like breathing; when I wasn’t doing it, I was miserable, disconnected from myself. On top of it all, I often couldn’t sleep. When I did manage to drift off, I frequently had bizarre nightmares of soldiers climbing over my windowsill, brandishing machine guns, and other disturbing combat scenarios.

Was it possible that Patricia could help with any of that?

Walking through her building’s entrance, I found myself feeling slightly anxious. Despite my excitement, meeting new people and trying new things always made me feel shy. As I waited for the elevator, a mural of the sky and clouds on the lobby’s ceiling caught my eye. Its colors—soft aquas, pinks, and golds—were like a soothing balm. I stood lost in them until the elevator arrived.

My anxiety quickly evaporated, though, as Patricia opened the door, a ceramic mug in hand. She smiled warmly and ushered me in. Reed-slim and graceful, with short-cropped red hair, she had a voice that put me in mind of the swish of silk or the rustle of wind through leaves. She invited me to sit at a small table, offering me coffee. As she went into her tiny kitchen and returned with a steaming, fragrant cup, I told her that I’d loved the lobby’s cloud mural, and that this was my first-ever reading, but shared nothing else.

Patricia switched on a tape recorder, which sat on the tabletop alongside a pad and pen, a stack of pale blue index cards, and something rectangular swaddled in a purple-and-blue paisley silk scarf, which turned out to be a well-worn deck of tarot cards. She began the reading by explaining the nature of her particular abilities. “There are people that are called ‘psychic,’ ” she said, “but their sense of psychic is knowing the events in your life and how they will happen. And usually, with someone who gets things like that, it’s because time is out of sequence. So what is future for you is not future for them.”

Now, that, to me, was fascinating, and she hadn’t even gotten started! As I digested this provocative statement, she picked up the pad and pen. “What I do is something very different.” She drew a circle, with spokes radiating out from a central point. “If this is a wheel, the person who knows the events of a person’s life knows these parts of the wheel.” She pointed to the spokes. “But what I see is the central point”—she pointed to the axle—“or what’s called the ‘essential nature’ of someone. Why they’re here. From that, I can see the connection to the things they’re doing in this life.”

“In this life.” Hmmmm, so Patricia believed in past lives! As a Catholic, I hadn’t been raised to believe in reincarnation, but for some reason I’d always felt very open to and curious about the idea.

“Sometimes, the reason why people are here—this essential nature—and the form their life is taking are totally different. That’s usually when they come to me, because something is off somewhere, and they feel it,” she said. “Now, there’s nothing I can tell you that you don’t already know. You just may not be . . . fully aware of it.”

Patricia set aside the pen and paper, and placed the stack of index cards in front of her—she referred to them from time to time—and for the next hour and a half, went on to give me her unique take on . . . me. Not predicting my future so much as telling me, or as she put it, reminding me, of who I was.

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