Reading cards takes me to some of the more salubrious suburbs of this fair city. Armed with the Grounded Dutchman's faithful GPS (crumbs, will have to give that back soon) my passport in case I have to go over the Westgate Bridge, my purple, velvet bag full of tarot cards and Andrew, my trusty Toyota Echo, I get to go out to such wonderful places as Deer Park, Carrum Downs, Ferntree Gully... places where lots of young couples live and subsequently, hold lots of hen's parties.
I really do need a GPS to get to such places as the Melbourne outer suburbs offend my Adelaide sensibility of not going places out of a twenty minute radius.
Tonight I was out to a Hen's Party in Narre Warren South. Narre Warren South is another name for the back end of nowhere. It's where the little boxes made of ticky tacky all looking just the same reside. It's just out the other side of Fountain Gate, where television's Kath and Kim live. It's somewhere I no aspirations to go to or live - but as they're paying me to read cards there I cannot complain. Hen's Parties are my bread and butter.
To get to Narre Warren South you have to go under Ernst Wanke Bridge and past Ernst Wanke Road. Was the council stoned when there were voting on the road names? The town planners were having a laugh. The fact that anybody travelling the thirty kilometres down the Monash to Narre Warren will see the wonderfully named road and bridge in big letters just after the Eastern Freeway exits is beside the point. Did they think the people who live out that way wouldn't complain? My friend Mac, of the Freemasons, five children called Michael, Maryanne, Michaela, Munro and Madison fame, lives in Berwick a few miles on from this wonderful place. He pointed out to me driving him home one night that the name on the bridge was vital to the South Eastern Suburbs, "It's Ernst, Pand, not Ernest. Nothing earnest lives out here."
Other than driving a ninety kilometre round trip there was another request to the job. Could I please dress up as a gypsy for the evening.
After the Seven Girls Called Tiphannee debarcle a few months ago, where after a rather difficult evening reading for needy bogans who complained that I didn't look gypsy enough, I've been really cautious of this dressing up lark. About one in ten jobs ask me to dress like a fortune teller. Part of me would love to tell them where to go, but my professional pride has me play along. And as all of my "gypsy" clothes got given to the salvos after I lost 20 kilograms, I'm at a loss as to how to dress now.
The thing that gets me about the dressing up is that I've studied tarot for a very long time. I've been taught from some of the best tarot teachers in the world. I read cards with the utmost respect and integrity and I know I'm a good, honest, caring reader. I read just as well in a pair of jeans or in my pyjamas. I don't need chiffon, scarves and make up applied with a trowel to do the job.
Tonight, complying with the request, dressed in flowing black, hair tissed up, adorned with every peice of silver I own and a make up job to make Alice Cooper proud, I knocked at the door. It must have been dressed to her expectations, the host looked happy to see me, which was more than I can say for the cop who breathalised me on the way there. I think he was a bit scared.
With the full moon tonight, things came out. Reading cards on the full moon is like adding a strong magnifying glass to the cards. These were nice, salt of the earth people. Some really hard lives were revealed to me. It really is an honour to be let in to see these snippets of people's realities.
As I always do on these evenings, I asked the host if there was anything I needed to know - any circumstances I should know about that I should stay away from. After going to one of these events where one of the guest's husband's had been murdered a few weeks before, I do this as a matter of course. It's best to know things like that up front. No point trying to be happy about things when there is no way they are not. From the back room I could hear one of the guests berating me for this. Fishing for information she said. Other than one girl being very pregnant, there was nothing to beware of.
The night passed. The readings were accurate - too accurate. Lots of shocked faces, lots of grateful smiles, grabs for the tissues - lot of angst and emotion was released. It was really cool.
Including the woman who was dissing me for hunting information. She was the last to be read for. She sat down in front of me. We opened the cards. "Oh. I'm sorry. Your mother..." I didn't get to finish the sentence. She was crying in the toilet by then. We had a great reading when she returned. We discussed options to help her through her grief and to move forward after her mother's recent passing.
The sceptic was convinced.
For as much as I make fun of the hen's parties at which I read, I do really feel blessed to be able to see into people's lives like this. The readings are almost like a short, pictorial blog - laying out their lives for me to see and comment upon. It's not a job for the faint hearted or weak minded. If you're not reading cards with love and integrity, there's no point doing it.
It's a strange gift I'm grateful to have received.