The part of the “CYOR” tour where two of my comedy shows fell through, so I decided to create some alternate reality in New Orleans, where I’m a fortune teller.
Allow me to preface this entry by admitting to you all that the last time I was in Vegas, I was only 20 years old; it was to see the Spice Girls and eat vegan donuts. To defend my metaphor, I’m familiar with the stereotype of what goes on in Vegas, in terms of it being unpredictable, over-stimulating, and an adult playground… plus all the drinking.
So, to begin the story: I arrived in New Orleans after driving straight through from Louisville, KY. After a short nap, I headed straight for the French Quarter. I was mostly looking to play the part of observer at this point, so I could get an inside look on how to navigate the quarter (I mean that philosophically more so than geographically, there’s smart phones for that). I saw a lot of tarot readers on the street, and was trying to figure out my angle to get in on the action. I struck up a conversation with someone named Drew (actual name, not to be confused with “Drew” from an earlier post). He was pushing sage he’d picked in California, along with some of his wire wrapped jewelry. I asked him a little bit about the tarot readers, and he pointed me in the direction of where they normally set up. I wandered over in that direction and the various fortune telling booths began to materialize. As I was taking in the scene, I saw this man who looked mysterious AS FUCK, and like Jesus, but sexier and darker. We smiled at each other, and I decided to go talk to him. An introduction between us left me with the information that his name is “Random” (by birth), and that he’s a self proclaimed nomad. I questioned him on the inner workings of the French Quarter and he was kind enough to invite me to work with him later that evening. After exchanging information, I went on my way and left him to his business of writing poems for strangers in exchange for tips.
This is the part of the story where I discuss how friendly and hospitable the people of NOLA are. While drifting around the quarter I asked two perfect strangers if I could pet their dog, it resulted in great conversation and an invitation back to their place a block over (they were gay, and my intuition about people is pretty on point, so I agreed and went with them). They served me wine, I met one of their mother’s (who was visiting), and we listened to Stevie Nicks. The atmosphere was super relaxed and easy, and we exchanged numbers when it was time for me to leave. We didn’t end up seeing each other again, but I was the recipient of a very kind and special text message from one of them…
“A pleasure meeting you Renee. I think you’ll always be one of those bright shining stars in my life.”
Like, how fucking sweet is that?! Sometimes the best compliments come from people who are virtually strangers. Here’s some photographic evidence of our meeting.
After my encounter with those fine people, it was off to meet my couchsurfing.com host and two of his friends. This is where I plug “Green Goddess,” holy amazing vegan food! We all had a great time being social, but there’s one memory that really stood out. After eating, the four of us went to grab some coffee. I asked everyone if they wanted to pull a card from my tarot deck, just as a fun activity and to help with conversation. When I do this, I’m usually expecting a lighter reading, to keep things interesting and have a little fun. All of those things were accomplished, but there was an intense beauty to what transpired. The friends of my host were visiting NOLA together, they’re besties. The first friend drew “The Sun” reversed. I gave her my interpretation saying “You’ve been in a dark place, and you’re kind of waiting for the sun and the light to come back into your life. Things have been hard for you lately, and you’re ready for the dawn.” She revealed to me that she has been on dialysis and was just put on the list for an organ transplant. Up next was her best bud. Before we get into what happened next, the following detail is pretty important… I took that card and put it in the middle of my deck, and shuffled it several times before giving it to her friend, who then shuffled it as well. Her friend pulled “The Sun” right side up. It was so obvious that this was a reflection of their friendship, and how vital it has been for the ill friend. It showed the strength of sisterhood, and the importance of close relationships when you’re feeling down. There was a great moment where the girls gushed over one another, and how necessary their bond was in the journey towards healing. I’m not a crier (unless a dog dies in a movie, then I’m fucked, the finale of “The OA” was kind of a problem too), but this moment made me tear up then, and now while reliving it. Just look at the love they have for each other!
We all said goodbye, and it was time to get down to business. Random messaged me where to meet him, and he totally took care of your girl! He brought me everything I needed for my setup, got our spot for us, and was nothing short of charming, excellent company! We worked the crowd together, he wrote poems while I gave readings. We cleaned up pretty nice that evening. A fun little detail about the amount of money I made that night: I was supposed to be doing a show in Atlanta, but it fell through. This was a real bummer for me, not only because I wasn’t performing, but because I had decreed (using witchcraft) that I would “Get that gig, and make (the amount it paid) on said date.” When it fell though, my witch ego took a small hit. Then I ended up making that same amount of money, that night, it was just a different gig. So, I learned a lesson in being specific with my wishes, and felt really proud of my witchy ways. It was a pretty life affirming moment, I won’t lie. After packing it in for the night, Random and I went back to his place, where he cooked me a breakfast burrito and was fabulous company. He’s a pretty amazing and fascinating person, he’s got a great combination of mystery, smarts, kindness, ego, and humility to him. We only worked together that one night, but even after all he’d already done for me, he continued to help me. The next day he let me barrow the stuff I needed for my setup, and even biked it into Jackson Square for me. He also helped me get it back out of the square at the end of the day shift. I took him out for dinner as a thank you (insert plug for Siberia here, holy shit their beet burgers and pirogi are fucking fantastic). I got another chance to return his kindness when he informed me that he had leave to barrow a car so he could pick up his friend from the airport, so I suggested we just take my car. The entire exchange was an amazing display of strangers helping each other, becoming fast friends, and a reflection of how beautiful the world can be when you open yourself up to possibility. This is the part where I mention how often I fantasize about murdering people, because I don’t want you all to get the idea that I’m made out of cotton candy… I also often get the urge to kick things for no reason, although I don’t act on it enough.
For the remainder of my trip I mostly worked on the street doing readings, I was fortunate in my encounters and met some really great people. One of the more profound readings took place with a gentleman named Marshall (who gave me permission to share the following information and visual aid). He took a seat next to me and here’s a loose transcript of what was said…
“I remember meeting you earlier, you were the witch lady working at that store.”
“Well, I was probably at a witch store, but I don’t work in one”
“No, I know I saw you! You were working there”
“Maybe you’re implanting me in false memories”
Then I laughed like a psychopath.
We also discussed the possibility that he’d had a prophetic dream about meeting me. Proceeding with the reading, it came out that this gentleman has had a struggle with opiate addiction. That played a huge role in his past and present cards, for the future he got the “Death” card. When I’m doing readings on the street, I usually try to keep it to 3 or 4 cards, but it was obvious that there was much to work out, so I kept drawing the cards for as long as they would speak. We explored what kind of struggles he’d be facing in order to get clean, and what he would have to look forward to. I explained to him that the “Death” card can also mean rebirth, but that he’d have to decide to be reborn, or to die. Not to get too personal on my end, but I think it’s only fair that I share a little bit of my experience with this sort of thing since I’m sharing his. I was a pretty bad opiate addict, and let it ruin my life and my relationship. I was able to get out of it, and turn everything around, so I really wanted to relay to him that it’s possible to do this. It’s not an easy task, but this time last year I was a waste of space and a pretty useless human. Since quitting, I’ve found several callings, appreciate beauty again, rediscovered my divine nature, and have accomplished a fucking lot. I’ve been busting my ass to reach my goals, and in terms of where I was not so long ago… I’m fucking killing it. I wanted that for him, and tried my hardest to get through to him. I gave him my facebook information so he could contact me further, and told him I’d be there for him if he needed me. A few days later I got an amazing and heartfelt message from him…
“Hope this doesn’t weird you out. I feel like I can be honest with you for some reason. I came to NOLA to crash out and purposely overdose… Just like the week before I overdosed on purpose, just not enough… I’m not looking for any attention or anything like that. Anyway, I barely remember anything the past two weeks but I remember talking to you as clear as day. And I really was dreaming about you before I ever met you. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I was happy to speak to you. I feel myself smile which I haven’t felt in a long time. I don’t know if I was dreaming, but did we speak again? All I know is I was passing out every 10 secs seems like. While I was riding my bike home you spoke to me the entire time to keep me awake. I don’t know about what, but I know it was you. I know I sound so weird and crazy but I don’t care. I wanted to thank you for taking your time out and for the reading, it meant a lot and gave me so much hope. You’re one of the most amazing beautiful inside and out girls I ever met. Good luck with your tour and don’t be a stranger. Bye”
I’ve been pretty quiet about my addiction (mostly because it’s behind me so I don’t feel the need to discuss it, and honestly, I don’t think anyone really wants to hear about it). I do feel the need though, to bring it up in this moment so that anyone who is struggling or has struggled in the past knows there’s an ally in me. I will also give free readings to anyone who is thinking of quitting, or has quit and needs some help with their direction in life (something I decided to do after a similar encounter with another man who had no money, but needed support).
Moving on from that little PSA
I met one girl who was asking about her love life. She’s been pretty unlucky in the past, but I definitely saw an amazing love in her future. The energy I felt when reading her and in reference to her future love was consuming… I told her it was the kind of love that would “make her believe in ‘god.” I think it weirded her out a little bit, so I tried to back peddle on that one. I learned from that reading that not everyone can relate to those kind of statements, oh well. While we’re on the subject of love, I have to give it up one more time for the people of New Orleans. There was only one day when Random couldn’t help me transfer my set up and I was left to carry a ton of shit from my car to my spot. I think I walked one block before someone offered to help me, asked for nothing, and wished me a good day before going on their way (both to and from my vehicle, the “Doom Tomb”). If I didn’t have career ambitions in LA, I’d be packing up and moving to New Orleans stat. It’s easily one of my favorite cities, and I can’t wait to go back for “Hex Fest” in August! NOLA, you’re beautiful, thanks so much for the times and the hospitality. The love that exists there cannot be measured, the food is pretty great too.
One last note before I sign off. I hung out with the poets more than I hung out with the tarot readers. They were amazing! On my last day there, some drunk was really annoying me, so I took deep breaths and sprinkled a line of salt between us when he wasn’t looking. Then, one of my fellow “street entertainers” lit sage out of nowhere (he didn’t know the struggle I was going through man!), and started to cleanse the road! I ended up getting really excited and threw salt all over the street like it was glitter and I was a god damn Disney princess. Not long after that, the drunk guy left me alone and I never saw him again. We banished the funky energy and conquered the day! Thanks Poets!
My next stop was Roswell, NM… Stay tuned folks.