Three months ago would be my birthday. And as I do some years, I give myself a present of an astrological forecast covering the year to come. My astrologer is just tops, in this and all her other incarnations as well. In the past, I've been impressed with her not shying away from naming names and specifying dates. Blows me away just how specific she can be.
As you probably know, I've had a pretty shitty past two years — surrounded by death and dying (not mine), hospice workers, hospital visits and staff, meds, taxes, estates, and most of all the turmoil of losing people I love, those I am close to, or some version thereof. It's also been a pretty wonderful year. I started a project with a complete stranger — a kaddish in two-part harmony — and some strange things have happened along the way.
But I wasn't expecting my astrological forecast.
The next 14 months are supposed to really really suck. As in — make the past two years look like a piece of cake.
And this all was to start on what I've come to call Cruise Missile Day.
According to my astrologer, something was going to hit me on June 25th.
"It's gonna hit you like a Cruise Missile," is what she said.
"And the only good thing about a Cruise Missile is that it's fast and then it's done."
So. In three months, I couldn't think of anything that could hit me that way. Two years of death and dying will do that to a person. What could hit harder than what's already come down without warning?
Maybe this was last year's chart? Maybe the year before's? Maybe it was a typo? A slip of the finger on the old keyboard? For three months I went about my life anticipating doom. And taking care of business to prevent chaos I might simply have been about to cause myself. If there was going to be a Cruise Missile attack, I wanted it to be not of my own doing. I was waiting for the hand of God, wasn't I? Lucifer's Hammer. Something like that.
Very millenarian of me, to be sure. And now I know what it feels like to be waiting for the imminent divine hammer to fall. Surely, if nothing else, I'll be able to teach apocalyptic psychology with panache now. Like I know what I'm talking about.
I woke up on Cruise Missile Day and called my mom. All's well. Decided not to drive a car all day, just in case. Got driven around like a princess. Aha. The Cruise Missile defense. Honey, will you drive me — I've got a Cruise Missile to worry about. Works every time.
There was no Cruise Missile as far as I could tell. And gee, I felt so prepared.
And then the doorbell rang.
"Who's there?" I asked.
It was the Cruise Missile.
They rushed in like a tempest. I made them a cuppa tea — my new French tea from Paris. Kusmi Tea — this one's strawberry green. They loved it. The apocalypse comes with a real sweet tooth.
I hadn't seen them in about two years.
They breeze in and tell me that the end is near. come with them, and they'll protect me. come with them and I'll be safe. If only they could find a place for that final hour...
This time, they'd finally found it. They opened up their laptop and showed me pictures. Just them and some Buddhist monks enjoying paradise before the fall. Some of the strangest pictures I'd ever seen. Compelling as hell. The desire to pack my bags and critters and run up to the mountains with them was pretty strong.
Just (as usual) not strong enough. In my 20s I just might have done it. Run off and live the dream. Actually, in my 20s, that's exactly what I did.
But not now. Now, I'm happy to just go down with the mothership. Be the holdout in the City. Be the link between the righteous and the damned. Or something like that.
They use words like 'perimeter.' They talk about women on the inside, and men holding-the-perimeter. But I kinda like the perimeter myself. I guess I'll take my chances. I like the aisle seat at the movies. The outside side of the bed, when one side's against the wall. Backless shoes so I can escape them. A car with gas. A passport ready for action. Gorp for the trail. Sleeping bag and hiking boots in the car. Flashlight. Bug spray. Big dog. Extra eye-makeup already in my bag. Yes. Essentials. The eye stuff keeps away the evil eye ... We're talking religion here, after all.
He asks to borrow my Dundes book on The Evil Eye. He wants my Wallace article on Revitalization Movements. He wants to be sure he's got the stages right. The fire this time, right?
"I hope you're documenting everything," I say. "I hope you're writing."
I say this every time. But it's not happening. Bummer to not have their story all written up and ready for history, no matter what comes. They nod, but I know. It's just not getting done.
They're all worked up.
"They think we've got a Training Camp going on. They look at us like Al Qaeda... They think we're wearing turbans..." the younger one says.
"Well, yah," I say, "it's the military khaki shirt. And you know — just let your hair down and then they'll know." I think I'm so smart. So rational.
They look at me in horror. Their hair is sacred. They don't want it polluted. But the younger one rallies —
"Bob Marley T-shirt —"
That's the spirit. No one will give you another glimpse with a Bob Marley T-shirt on. But they're not going to do it.
Being paranoid is just part of the thrill of the end times, don't you think? That, and solar panels.
So. Of course, I just have to ask. Can't let them go without asking.
"So," I say, tentatively. "So. Do you think it'll hit like a Cruise Missile?"
They stare at me in complete silence. They don't move a muscle. Complete silence still —
— and then the older one responds in a whisper.
"It's the Book of Revelations," he says. "It will take only one hour. You should come with us." He's pretty emphatic about it.
But it's Pride Weekend, and we've got a party to go to. And then I've got this peer review to write, and an article to edit, and another to start from scratch. There's laundry to be done. There's puppies that need walking. Fall course syllabi to prepare. And pants that need some mending. The last Harry Potter movie's coming out. There's a BBQ in Sonoma. A friend who's moving out. And I've got a new girlfriend! A Film Festival we've got tickets for. It's summer, for god's sake. Then opera season and conferences. And I've just ordered takeout. Allergy season in the mountains. And I've been counting all my blessings. Show me what's gotten worse in the world. And then I'll consider all the warnings.
Happy Cruise Missile Day. Yesterday, that is. So now, we're safe. Right?