Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Conjunct This, Saturn.

You would never in a million years guess this by looking at him, but my office-mate is big into all things astrological. This is not something he likes to broadcast. It is not something he wants a lot of people to know. In fact, at last year's department Christmas party, when he promised me he'd show the birth chart that plots the planets at the exact moment of my birth, he made me go into a separate room so he could smooth my chart down on a coffee table and point to the different elements, explain them so I'd understand why I am the way I am. He kept his voice low. He kept one eye on the door, just in case anyone happened by.

Everything he told me was interesting and sickeningly accurate, and I was pretty amazed by the whole thing. And it wouldn't be the last time. This past week, my office-mate brought my chart back in and scooched his chair over to my side of the room. He had a thick book in his lap. "Okay," he said, "let's do this."

My office-mate knows I haven't been having the most stellar time lately. Although I've been having a perfectly lovely semester--seriously, it's been a pretty giant love-fest with my students these last few weeks--he knows my personal life has been glum and gangly. Just ugly. And there were days I would drag myself into school feeling guilty because I liked my students and I wanted to do right by them, but the last thing I wanted to do was stand at the front of a classroom for hour and a half chunks and try to teach them things about writing and literature. I would sit down at my computer and thunk my head to the desk and moan, "I can't do this. I don't know. I'm just so tiiiiiiiiired."

And my office-mate would lean back his chair, nod, and say, "Well, Jess, that's just Saturn."

He explained that people like me--people with their sun conjuncting Saturn--were in trouble for a while. He said Saturn was a planet that made things difficult, heavy, cumbersome. He said it was going to be rough going but then things would get better.

That didn't sound so bad, so I brightened and asked when exactly I could expect my life to feel less like it was a five hundred pound man rolling over on me in the middle of the night--and I fully expected my office-mate to say something like, "Oh, it should all be over by next week!"--but he shrugged and said, "Somewhere around August."

Needless to say, I needed more information. I wanted specifics. If my life was about to be total crap for a mess of months, I wanted to know why. So my office-mate brought in my chart and a stack of reference books.

He pointed things out on my chart and then cracked open one of the books. "Here," he said. "This is you. Read all of this."

"Have you read it?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"And is it horrible? Does it say I'm a horrible person who will have horrible things happen to her?"

He gave me a Look. "Read it," he said.

And I did. And it scared the living hell out of me.

Basically, it said that thirteen years ago something awful had happened in my life. It was a time of great upheaval, and that upheaval directly shaped the person I am today. In fact, the book said I'd gone so far as to make myself a promise thirteen years ago, and this year--this one right here--was the year that I was going to make good on that promise, that something was going to come of it. It also said that I couldn't make good on that promise with too many other things cluttering the way, so I was probably going to go through an awful dissolution of a relationship and that I better not try to start anything new either because that was going to be ugly, too.

(It's interesting to know that while I was reading this, I could not keep from conjuring up that part in The Wedding Singer where Adam Sandler and his movie-fiancee, who just stood him up on their wedding day, are discussing the reasons why the wedding didn't occur. His fiancee lists all sorts of things she doesn't like about Adam's character and he says, "Once again, these are things that COULD'VE BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION YESTERDAY!!" I think I felt sort of like that. All like, Gee, thanks, Saturn. Fuck off.)

Anyway, I knew exactly what the book was telling me. I knew exactly what event it was referring to. I knew exactly what promise I'd made to myself. And I would've remembered it just fine on my own, but a few nights before, as I was unpacking one of those last straggling boxes from the move, I stumbled on my diary from my freshman year of high school (which was thirteen years ago), and I read through some of the most depressing entries a fourteen year old girl could ever carve out of a page.

My best friend and I had just gone through a very public and evil fight, and the end result was that she said she hated me, and I said I hated her, and she said she was going to get some of her upperclassmen friends to beat the shit out of me, and I said she should just go ahead and try it. Then for the next few months I was doubly sad: after all, I was vaguely terrified I was going to get my ass beat by that tall junior who was rumored to have been in jail, plus I no longer had my best friend in the whole world.

There was something important that corresponded to all of this. My family was taking a winter vacation down to Charlotte, North Carolina so we--a NASCAR-loving brood--could tour the raceteams' shops and get our pictures taken next to Jeff Gordon's championship trophy. I packed all my best turtlenecks and chunky shoes, and I sat in the backseat of the family car with my earphones capped tightly over my ears for the length of the nine hour drive. I seethed the whole time. I thought, I hate my best friend. I hate her. I hate her. I thought, How could she do this to me?

But my mood lightened in Charlotte. I loved Charlotte. And I realized there was a whole big world outside the small town where we went to school, where we lived. And I realized I was meant for bigger things than I could find in that town. And right there, in Charlotte, North Carolina, right outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, I promised myself two things: that I was going to be the one to get out of our small town, and I was going to become a writer. I was going to become a really good writer. I was going to make something of myself. I thought those things would make my best friend miss me. I thought those things would make my best friend realize she had made a huge mistake. And that's what I wanted more than anything.

Now Saturn is telling me it's time to make good on that promise. And I'm listening. I know Saturn's game now. I'm clued in. I know it's going to be hell for a while and that I'm going to feel fairly awful about everything until this all blows over--just like I did back then, back when losing Tammy's friendship was all I could think about--but I'm ready, and I've been ready, and I'm trying. I'm really, really trying.


Jason said...

Not to be one to contradict any astrology oogedy-boogedy, but as far as this goes:

I promised myself . . . I was going to become a writer. I was going to become a really good writer.

You already did that.

Diana said...

Jess, you already know I believe with all my heart in this stuff.

I'm glad you're a believer now, too.


Jess said...

Thanks, Jason, but I think what I was meaning there is that there would some kind of mass validation involved in the form of publication of a book-length work. Fingers crossed!

D--ohhhh, it's all very cool. I'm into it. INTO IT.