Be Here Next: Mercury’s Mixed-Up Parade

I never permit my Ruby Intuition clients to tape our sessions.

My reasoning is simple. When people know they can watch or listen to something later, they tune out of the moment. And when they’re not present, they’re almost impossible to access so the sessions become useless.

It’s not like I don’t let my clients take notes. Some take a ton. But writing, like reading, is active. Even the act of transcription requires engagement. And when we really engage in a moment–any moment–it transforms us, transformation being the foundation of any practical magic.

I mention this because lately I’ve been taking morning walks without my phone. It’s Gemini Season, a time of tremendous communication, activity, and, yes, transformation. The only way to navigate such a flurry is to heed the heavens themselves.

Of course, to heed them, you must unplug from the clatter of everyday life so you may hear them. So I’ve been trying to follow my own advice. You know the drill: Metaphysician, heal thyself. Or at least hear thyself. I won’t get into the trick of heeding myself. Who among us manages that level of self-integration?

Saturday morning I woke with a pounding head and heart, the sour taste of regret. The night before, Mercury had been its most fast and furious. Tequila, the demon’s drug, had greased the wheels.

Naturally I was out of coffee beans.

Down to Oslo I fumbled, blinking like a mole in a mummu; as I parked my car, the Legend’s ex wife walked by with her new spouse, the two clad in matching caps, their baby babbling like a brook. Hiding behind enormous sunglasses, I felt like an alien, light years from respectable Earthling customs.

But when I walked in, I was greeted like Norm on Cheers. “Lisa!”

I hadn’t seen them for a while, but huddled at the front table were Mikie and Paulie, the Italian-American 70somethings besties who’ve presided over East Williamsburg since they were in elementary school. Time was I’d hang with them every morning, but Paulie has been undergoing some health challenges–he’s a Vietnam Vet still wrangling with Agent Orange–and Mikie moved out of the neighborhood last year after his wife’s death. Just to Queens, but for an around-the-way guy like him, it may as well have been the Fiji Islands.

“Whatchya been up to, doll?” said Paul, squinting at me. He’s known me long enough to read my lack of lipstick as a bad sign.

I shook my head, unwilling to download before throwing caffeine at the headache, now four-dimensional. As in: hurtling me back to the scene of the crime.

“Put Lisa’s coffee on my tab!” he hollered, and I managed a smile. It was the first time all year a guy had bought me a drink.

Halfway through my Americano–four shots, thank you very much–I filled the boys in on my night. They laughed, which did not make me feel worse. “We’ve been worrying about you,” Mikie said. “I saw on the Facebook you were going through some rough times. And I know that guy you were going with.”

I tensed, afraid he was going to let loose some un-PC invective about the Legend that I wouldn’t be able to forgive. Instead, he said, “That guy is always working an angle and that’s not you. You don’t take shit and you never bullshit.”

“Aw, you know I do,” I said. “Why else would I hang with you two degenerates?”

“That’s why we love ya, kid,” said Paulie, snapping open his paper.

God, I felt better.

For the next hour, more and more regulars sailed in with the morning’s breezes. My coffee shop is the neighborhood’s last stand against plugged-in culture; it offers no wireless, no electronic outlets. Instead, magazines and newspapers are scattered across a large communal table; mediocre art adorns the peeling walls. Really, it’s no surprise local millennials eschew the place for more Instagrammable fare. We regulars hardly miss them, though we worry the shop will go under. Instead we talk to each other–flirt, argue, commiserate.

It’s where K and I reconnected after our misspent youths drew to a close. It’s where I’ve picked up a handful of gigs and lovers. It’s where I met the Legend, which, incidentally, is why I’ve mostly been avoiding it this year.

But Saturday I was glad to have ventured back. I reached for my phone only to remember I’d left it at home. Even gladder then.

Zumba, greenmarket, park: I hit them all without my external memory drive, and made more connections as a result. Then, sweaty and burdened with bags, I plunked on a bench and watched the everyday parade. Young people hurried by, immersed in each other or their phones. Only small children, old people and dogs sniffed me out. I smiled at all of them, even when they fixed me with suspicious stares. It was just so good to be back in the sun, at home among strangers, my grandfather’s legacy of love and loneliness secure.

My hangover lifted, I drifted back home.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy