“So your dad wasn’t in the military?” the psychic asks.
“Nope,” I say.
I’m sitting on the couch in a room that feels more like a therapist’s office than a psychic. The tones of the room are beige and generic and almost polite; the décor is free of crystal balls or tie-dyed scarves.
“And your mom isn’t a nurse? Does she have diabetes?”
“No,” I shake my head slowly and push the image of a horseback Wilfred Brimley away. I feel a little bit bad for the psychic Jerry, but worse for me. At least she is getting paid for this.
“Are you in HR?” She looks at me.
I had heard amazing things about Jerry, from a good friend. Jerry had connected with my friend’s dead mother and knew the name and all kinds of other information about her step-mother. I drove nearly an hour to see Jerry after waiting months for my appointment. A late-middle-aged woman with wavy grey-blond hair, she exudes the air of a gentle grandmother.
A kind grandmother, but a shitty psychic.
I tap my foot, run my fingers through my hair, cross my legs.
Please. Tell me what to do. After leaving my job as a crisis team coordinator a few months back, I took the summer off to write before hopping into the promising world of office temping. At 33, baby fever has hijacked my body; pregnant women show up everywhere, flouncing around with their tight round bellies and swelling breasts. Every cell in my body wants to be pregnant, biology overriding the thought of sleepless nights, foul diapers, and no freedom. My husband and I have been trying for almost a year. When people ask, I’ve begun to joke, “Maybe we’re not doing it right.”
About 30 minutes after we had sex for the first time after tossing my birth control pills, I announced to him, “I think I feel something.” He smirked at me. “I’m not sure it happens that quickly,” he said.
He was right.
From pre-adolescence, girls are drilled about how easy it is to become pregnant. In the year between then and now, I’ve gone from thinking I could practically get pregnant by airborne sperm, to reaching the conclusion that my body is broken and inhospitable to human life.
“You’re a little nervous,” the psychic says. “It’s making it a little hard to connect, and sometimes my ego gets in the way when that happens,” she explains.
“Okay,” I say. I will myself to calm down. The result is an increase in the tempo of my frantic foot tapping, and the heart rate of a baby gerbil.
“Are you sure you don’t live in a townhouse?” I tilt my head and rack my brain, as if a previous dwelling had somehow slipped my mind.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” I decide.
“Is there anything else you’d like to know?” Jerry asks. Trying to override the disappointment that Jerry is going to solve my life, I come up with the question I’d been perched on, too afraid to ask.
“What about kids?” I blurt out. She pauses for a long moment. I hold my breath. Despite her failure to target anything about my actual life thus far, I still half-expect this woman to read my uterus like a crystal ball.
“I see a boy and a girl travelling through this life with you,” she says. She smiles, then nods.
“Really?” I say. I had always planned on having two kids—when I was 11 and assigned the homework of imagining myself in my early 30s, I predicted I’d have a girl and a boy. Of course, I also predicted that Ronald Reagan would still be president. Like Jerry, I wasn’t batting 100%.
“I don’t see any problems with fertility. I think it’s just a timing thing,” she adds.
“I keep seeing a townhouse though,” she said, shaking her head as if the vision wouldn’t leave her.
“Huh,” I say. I grab my checkbook, then head home, still waiting for my future to appear.
A few months later, in between data entry projects at my temp job, I browsed real estate ads online. I found a listing for a condo with crystal doorknobs, wood floors, and an attic converted into a gorgeous bedroom full of nooks and crannies. Within three days, we were under contract on the place.
Signing the contract, I realize the condo is listed as a townhouse.
In six months, a wave of nausea rolls through my body. After four months of vomiting, five months of sciatica, and four hours of pushing, my son was born.
Two years later on April Fool’s Day, during a freak snowstorm, I felt a very familiar wave of nausea. Our daughter was born the following December.
My mom still doesn’t have diabetes—yay! And a career in HR isn’t any more appealing than it was almost seven years ago when I sat across from Jerry. But it turns out my uterus was just fine, and perhaps, as Jerry said, it was all really just a matter of timing.