Maybe it’s because I haven’t reached that “certain age” yet—you know, the unspoken number where society deems you unfit to wed— but I hadn’t really encountered anyone with the mentality that they were rapidly approaching that unspoken age. People that made it seem like dating/marriage/relationships were kind of like selling a house that is about to foreclose. You have to sell the damn thing now before someone realizes that no one really wants to live in a 1970s style house that the Brady Bunch used to live in. It’s passé. It’s not even retro or vintage. It’s just old. I feel like this is the mentality that a lot of women have; as if we have some sort of expiration date.
This is why a lot of people view finding a relationship as another job. There are books, seminars, videos, online dating, speed dating—all these mediums to help you find “the one”. I thought I had heard them all until I met my friend’s cousin, Hedda.*
I had spent a few days last week training in Pasadena for a recent promotion, and although I love the drive to Pasadena and love the city; leaving my house at 3:30 am to get to Pasadena by 4:30 am is not a picnic…at all. It was drives like these where I wished technology would catch up to all the Stanley Kubrick films so I can sleep while my computer controlled car would drive me to my location automatically; but I digress. After a long shift at work, I got to spend time with my friend and fellow RA from undergrad, Tina. We ate lunch, watched TV, and hung out. It was like we were back in college except she now lived 35 miles away from me instead of 35 feet, plus we didn’t have to pretend like we were studying.
After a few hours of pure unproductive bliss, Tina turned to me and asked if I wanted to go to a séance. Skeptical and a little thrown off, I wasn’t sure what she was referring to. She brought out this book titled, Finding Mr. Right. I quickly flipped through the book. All the text was in read and there were symbols and images that confused me even more.
“My cousin Hedda, gave it to me. Hedda is…kind of like Bridget Jones. She’s doing this moon ceremony, since it’s a full moon, to this goddess to help her find a man. Apparently, the more people you have the better it works…I think. You want to go?”
My mind began to race. We’re going to go help Tina’s frumpy (I’m assuming frumpy) cousin cast a magic spell to help her find a man. I skimmed through the pages of the book once more. Well, there’s nothing demonic looking in here, and I doubt they’re printing the necronomicon in paperback now.
“Sure, I’m in.” I responded. I figured if anything, the experience could give me something to write about.
We pulled up to a quiet apartment building in South Pasadena. As we walked upstairs to her apartment, I realized that the stairs turned into her balcony. Hedda didn’t have a front door but rather a sliding glass door with a private balcony. It was amazing, while looking around her vintage-style apartment I couldn’t help but be envious. I looked at her modern paintings on the wall, her lush Victorian-style couch, the fresh roses on her dining room set and the bookshelf/shoe display with admiration. This was the kind of place I would want to live in if I were on my own.
“I’ll be out in a minute!” a voice called from the bathroom, “you have to be clean in order for the ceremony to work!”
I was glad I showered that morning. I didn’t want my laziness to get in the way of a successful ceremony to the moon goddess. As I turned to sneak a peek at the bedroom, an athletic woman appeared from the bathroom. She was smiling and had a matching sweat suit on with her hair wrapped in a towel.
“Hi, I’m Hedda.” She reached over and gave me a hug. “So nice to meet you.”
My brain started screaming.
How is this even possible? When Tina started saying how her cousin was like Bridget Jones and couldn’t find a boyfriend, my brain had painted a portrait of a dowdy, frumpy girl—who was possibly chubby and/or had frizzy hair. I wasn’t imagining this gorgeous Latina girl with hazel eyes and perfect skin. She looked amazing even without make-up on.
Oh shit, I thought, if this broad can’t find a boyfriend, there’s no hope for the rest of us.
As Hedda was getting the altar ready, she handed Tina, Tina’s sister and I little pieces of paper. She urged us to write down three words that refer to emotion.
“Write down how you want to feel in a relationship. Or if you don’t want a relationship—“ I couldn’t help but feel as though she was directing the last part towards me. “—I would write down words you want to feel now in the present.” She smiled and took some more crystals out onto the balcony.
Hedda finished setting up the altar and joined us on her couch to write down her three words. I looked at the tiny blank piece of paper and kept pressing the end of the pen against my cheek. I finally thought of three.
Trust. Hope. Revenge.
The words looked funny together. “Is revenge an emotion?” I asked.
I could see Tina shake her head from my peripheral. Hedda smiled gently and responded, “Maybe we should stick with more positive emotions.”
I quickly crossed out the word “revenge” and wrote “vindication” instead; same basic message, nicer packaging.
Hedda quickly ushered the three of us out onto her balcony. Since it was a lot colder than all of us girls had anticipated, we were all snuggled up in bright fleece blankets. I wrapped myself up in a Brooklyn Dodgers blanket and took in the altar. It was a small plastic table lit with candles. There was incense, crystals, small pieces of paper with what looked like Sanskrit and a metal bowl in the center of it all.
The actual ceremony was kind of a blur. There was a lot of inhaling and exhaling. We had to make sure that the altar was directly hitting the full moon. We went around in a circle and read with passion the words we had written on our pieces of paper. We dramatically tossed the paper in the metal bowl. All of it was pretty easy and I was composed through most of it. Considering the fact that the entire time I kept picturing us as the old ladies and Sandra Bullock in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. If you haven’t seen the film, here’s the scene I’m referencing.
So I was perfectly capable of stifling the giggles, at least until we had to recite the incantation.
I could not keep a straight face. I kept holding my breath as I was reading the phonetic pronunciation of the phrase we all had to recite. I was imagining us as the sheep in Babe saying “Baa Ram Ewe. BAA RAM EWE!”
I could see that Tina was also having a hard time keeping it together but she persevered more gracefully than I. She would occasionally shoot me a look that yelled, “Keep your shit together, Sarah. Do not guffaw and ruin the ceremony.” I couldn’t help it though. After the sheep thought passed, I kept wanting to sing “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” by Michael Jackson. You know the part where he keeps repeating, “mamase mamasa mamakusa”? I could not get it out of my head. Finally after repeating the phrase for the 9th time, the ceremony was over.
“So we can end the ceremony with a moment of silence, we can listen to a song, or we can all sing a song,” Hedda explained.
Before I could suggest the moment of silence, Tina chimed in, “Sarah can sing. She loves to sing. Why don’t you sing us a song?” She turned to me and smiled. I knew it was revenge for not keeping my shit together during the incantation.
“Oh no, I don’t- we should just listen to a song- I don’t- I- I don’t have to sing.” A moving argument, I know.
“I would love to hear you sing,” Hedda responded encouragingly.
I exhaled deeply. For some reason, I couldn’t think of an appropriate lovey-dovey sounding song. I wanted to sing “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morisette, but I thought that might not be the best choice. Finally, I stated singing a song that was acceptable: “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele. Good ol’ Adele, you never fail me. After I did a quick rendition (it was literally the Itunes preview) of the song, Hedda clapped in sheer joy.
“Your song brought another organic layer to the ceremony, thank you.”
As we scurried back into the warm apartment, I thought now we could relax and just do normal single girl things like discuss which Mr. Darcy we preferred in the different versions of Pride and Prejudice. Or just eat all the dark chocolate Hedda had in her freezer, but instead we all decided to meditate on Venus.
As the words escaped Hedda’s mouth, the muscles in my face went into panic mode. You see, when people explain something that I think is completely absurd, I make this face. My mouth generally goes into an open-mouth fake smile; the toothy kind that you see in Crest Whitestrips commercials. Then my eyes kind of glaze over like I’m a character in a Japanese animation film. My eyes twinkle, because I rarely blink when I make this face. Now people that know me well enough know that this is the face I make when I think you’re full of shit. For that brief moment, I thought Hedda knew me well enough to decipher this. Maybe it’s because the ceremony brought us closer together, but I felt like she knew that I thought she was crazy. So my reaction was to move the muscles in my face around as much as possible so she couldn’t possibly figure out what I was thinking. My eye started to twitch; I would wiggle my nose like Samantha from Bewitched. And after a pregnant pause, I agreed to meditate on Venus to “open up my love chakra.” Which didn’t really make sense to me. If we wanted to meet men shouldn’t we meditate on Mars?
I laid on the floor of my dream apartment as Hedda plugged in her ipod to speakers. A calming woman’s voice cooed, “You are now being transported to Venus.”
As the woman described the burgundy sand, volcanic mountains and pink pear trees with a horrible electric sitar playing in the background, I couldn’t help but think that this is how some people are hoping to find love. They have to meditate on different planets, buy crystals and have moon ceremonies.
“You see lovers dancing in a plaza. They are wearing black velvet and lace garments.”
Great, now I’m in an Evanescence music video, I thought. Was this all for real? Did Hedda do this every month? Lighting candles and incense, writing down words of emotion, making altars to a moon goddess? Thinking that doing all this, “opening up her love chakra” and “bringing in positive energy”, was going to help her find her match?
“You are spiraling back down to Earth. And now… open your eyes.”
A cymbal chimed and I opened my eyes. I studied the ceiling as my mind recapped the night’s events. I kept asking myself the same two questions as I laid there in silence. Since when did finding love become so important to people that we have to go out of our way to make sure it happened? And am I not doing enough?
In eight to ten years, will I be the one clutching onto crystals hoping that I’ll meet Mr. Right? Okay okay, so I won’t have crystals, I’ll probably be clutching onto cats and possibly a box of Claritin since I’m allergic, but was it wrong of me to want to shake Hedda by the shoulders and cry out, “You’re beautiful, successful, and you don’t need all this mumbo jumbo to find a man”. Or I guess I could’ve slapped her like Cher slaps Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck. “Snap out of it!” Great film.
I don’t know if this is just a placebo effect, or maybe it’s just self-fulfilling prophecy. But as of late, I have been feeling all three of the emotions that I wrote down that night. Trust? Check. Hope? Absolutely. Vindication? Maybe. I don’t really know what that word means to me anymore. At first it was this overwhelming need for comeuppance, but now maybe it’s just turning into apathy.
But then again, maybe apathy is what I need to be vindicated.
*note: Name has been changed. Don’t worry, she’s nothing like the Henrik Ibsen character.
- troubadourheart posted this