To commemorate the longest night of the year, I hit up a few local psychics, many of whom, I knew, would be plenty aware of the solstice and some of whom, I hoped, would say something useful about the cold months ahead.
I began with a palm reading. To be honest, the whole fortune-telling thing freaks me out more than a little, and of the various modes of divination palmistry seemed the safest. Not so. The woman conducting my reading -- a tiny black-eyed New Yorker named Ann Marchese -- began her examination of my hands by listing potential adversities and otherwise predicting impending doom. I am dangerously stubborn! I will alienate the people I love most! I will encounter what she vaguely described as 'great hardship'! (Following all this, she helpfully suggested that I relax.)
Hoping for a brighter forecast, I consulted a tarot reader at Gypsy House Cafe. She told me my long-term future was clouded but, as far as she could tell, relatively bright. "What about the rest of the winter?" I queried. She told me I should expect romance (I will meet a Leo and we will fall madly in love), travel (India, she predicted), and, as an upshot of both, new conflict. She even gave me a timetable: all this will apparently take place by next September.
The last psychic I consulted identified himself simply as "Mr. Wizard." His medium was a bizarre deck of cards and his system, allegedly first developed by a jester in Napoleon's court, involved an artillery of impossibly precise detail. Do I have problems with my right shoulder? he wanted to know. What about with my siblings? Am I Jewish? Do I consider myself a businesswoman? Am I planning to take any trips over the next two weeks? Do I usually fight with my mother during the springtime? Where will I be this February? Like the others, though, his consultation left me with little of use.
It had proven to be a decidedly depressing attempt at festivity. I abandoned it. The days will grow longer in a few weeks anyhow, I reasoned. After a point, small certainties -- the spin of the earth, for instance, or the promise of sunlight -- are a little like understanding the future, near enough to it to count.