You hear people talk about “rock bottom”. For me, rock bottom was a nearly three-year period in my life, from 1993 to about the middle of 1996.
In late 1994, I left my first husband and began what would end up being one of the most painful times of my life. Our separation was as ugly as our marriage had become and getting over him and the loss of the life I’d thought we’d share together was painful and long.
The summer of 1995, a friend and I decided to go to the flea market (jockey lot) and walk around just to get me out of the house. I was working three jobs at the time and single parenting Mini-Me. My social life was non-existent and I rarely left the house except to go to work.
While we were at the flea market, we ran across a table with a small tear-drop camper parked behind it and a sign for a reading of the future from the resident gypsy.
At the time, I didn’t know if I believed in all of that stuff or not, but it seemed like a fun idea to see what she’d say.
My friend, we’ll call her “T”, and I figured that we’d go in together and she’d tell us some outlandish crap, we’d get a laugh and a funny memory and be on our way.
As we approached the camper, the door opened. She was everything you’d expect a gypsy fortune-teller to be. Multi-colored flowing dress with a headwrap to match. A dark olive complexion and dark eyes.
She sized us up and down and motioned to T to come inside. I started to follow and she stopped me and said that she would speak to us separately. I thought it was odd because in every movie I’d ever seen with a fortune teller in it, the person getting the reading and any number of friends, family, and relatives pile in around the table with them, but it was her show, so I did as I was told and waited outside.
I’d hoped I could at least hear them, but I couldn’t hear a word. After about 15 minutes, T comes out with an odd look on her face. After exchanging a long look between us, she nodded towards the door of the camper and I hesitantly walked inside.
I guess I expected a crystal ball, but there was none in sight. The lighting was softer than I’d expected in broad open daylight and I found it hard to see for a moment. When my eyes adjusted, I was motioned to sit across a small two person table from the gypsy and I took my seat.
She reached across the table and held out her hand for mine.
After gazing at my palm for what felt like a very uncomfortable eternity, she looked up at me and said,
“The one that you have lost was not the one for you, although your heart believed that he was. You have received what you were meant to gain from that relationship and its time has passed.”
“I see travel in your future. You will travel some distance to find the one that is meant for you. I see a tall man in a uniform. Red hair. He is the one you are meant to find.”
At the time, I was caught off guard but as T and I compared stories later, I decided that although she’d hit the nail on the head about “the one I had lost”, she clearly was mistaken about the rest. I was a single mom with a toddler and three jobs. I couldn’t even afford to pay my whole power bill at one time and still eat. There was no way I’d be traveling anywhere. I promptly put the whole thing out of my mind and went on with my life.
1996 did not start out as a good year. My first marriage had ended once and for all (we did the get back together and split up again thing for a bit before I finally managed to make myself stay away from him) the year before, not long after my encounter with the gypsy, and all of the ugliness that’s associated with people getting divorced who have a child, especially when one seems to make it their personal mission in life to hurt the other person as much as possible, was finally over. He’d done his worst, and I’d survived it, but just barely.
There was a day towards the very end of it all when I found myself sitting in my garden tub crying as hard as I’d ever cried in my life and thinking about how easy it would be to just let myself sink down under the water and not come back up. To be honest, even all these years later, I know that the only thing that really stopped me that day was knowing that my grandfather, who’d come to live with me to help out with Mini-Me, who was two and a half, would be the one to find me and I was afraid that the shock of it would kill him.
I didn’t realize it then, but I was having a nervous/mental/emotional breakdown. What I needed more than anything at the time was for one of the people who claimed to care for me to put me in the hospital where I could get some help, but as is usually the case with people who are suicidal, my family didn’t notice that I was not doing nearly as well as I tried to act like I was.
What ended up happening was that I somehow ended up in another state, standing at the front door of a friend from high school and her husband’s house with a bag, a picture of Mini-Me clutched to my chest and a piece of paper with their address on it. I have no memory of going there. Even now, no one, including me, knows how I got there. I had no car, no money…and no memory of at least three days.
According to my friend, we’ll call her “SR” and her husband “TR”, I spent several weeks in a kind of daze on their couch, barely speaking or eating. I remember bits and pieces of those weeks now, but not much.
When I finally started to pull out of it, I decided I needed to get a job while I figured out what I was doing. I was too embarrassed about just showing up like that unannounced on their doorstep to ask them to give me money to get back home, so I figured a job was a good place to start to get myself back together.
It was a military town, TR was in the Army and was stationed there. They lived off-post in apartments and all up and down the main drag were bars. I ended up landing a job at a little place called the Rock N’ Rave as a waitress, even though I was only 20 and technically not old enough to serve alcohol. I guess the lady that hired me, who I became very fond of, by the way, saw something in my eyes that day and decided I was worth the risk.
I’d been working there a few weeks, long enough to start getting good at my job (I’d worked waiting tables since I was 15, but never in a bar and my knowledge of alcoholic drinks was more limited than you might imagine for 20 year old). I’d started to get to know my co-workers and was even making friends with some of them.
One day I was scheduled to open, which meant that I had to be there late afternoon/early evening before the bar opened so that I could get the tables set up, get the kitchen up and ready and all of the things waitresses do before customers show up.
I was in the main room alone with my back to the door setting up tables when every little hair on the back of my neck stood up and a chill ran down my back. It totally had the vibe of a Final Destination movie after all the characters start to realize that Death is stalking them and some kind of close-call happens.
I turned around and looked at the door to see a soldier in BDU’s standing there looking back at me. He had red hair.
My reaction was instant. I threw a “we’re closed” over my shoulder, spun on my heel and headed for the kitchen where one of my coworkers had gone and immediately told them there was someone at the door, could they please go see what they needed.
In spite of the odd look they gave me, they went out and talked to him and when I finally came out of the kitchen, he was gone.
TO BE CONTINUED….