The Future Foretold in New Orleans.
A short article extracted from “Revolutions” is featured in We Said Go Travel. Read it below.
The Future Foretold in New Orleans.
On Bourbon Street, even though it’s still morning, people are already drinking and there’s live music blasting in some of the bars. The weather has changed drastically. Yesterday’s torrential rain has turned into bright sunshine. For me, this is even more marked, as I had the icy cold of Chicago only forty-eight hours ago. It’s the first time on my circumnavigation of the world (and I am way over half way) that I feel that it’s not winter. It’s become summer in the blink of an eye.
Rue Royale is charming with its art galleries and boutique restaurants. I wander along the Mississippi, past the brewery, to Jackson Square. The side of the square nearest the river is crowded with people watching some kind of street performer, so I cross the road into the gardens. St. Louis Cathedral is flanked either side by the Cabildo and Prebytere Museums. In front is the statue of Andrew Jackson, who the park is named after. Between the gardens and the cathedral, the square has all kinds of painters, caricaturists, palm readers, fortune tellers and street musicians. The sellers do not hassle anyone and it’s easy to pass through.
Yet I’m drawn to one psychic at the edge of the square. She’s old and dark skinned. She has dark teeth with a couple of silver fillings showing. I’m a little afraid of her. I can’t help myself. I ask her what she does. She tells me that she will ask me to cut cards and then she will interpret them. Her fee is $20 but I can pay her what I like. I don’t want to but somehow I find myself sitting down opposite her.
Quickly she tells me to pick as many cards from the deck as I wish and to place them face up on the red cloth which covers the rickety table between us. I pick three. She pauses for a moment then takes hold of both my hands. Quietly, she tells me that I have a set of dreams which are written down, in preferential order, and that I am methodically working through them. She continues in a hush and says that my happiness in pursuing these will continue and that there is nothing to stop me from doing anything that I set my mind to.
Ok, so far, so good. I can cope with this. So why do I still feel uneasy with her? She asks if I have any specific questions for her. I explain that soon a journey I’m on will end and that I then have to decide what to do next. This will quite possibly be what I will do for a living. She instructs me to pick some new cards. The second card I pick is ominously the Reaper. She smiles, crookedly. She interprets that as one thing dies, another will take its place. I have to think about letting go before I can take on something new.
She continues that the something new is likely to involve writing, particularly about my recent experiences, but they should contain my opinions and I shouldn’t be afraid of being critical but to always be honest. Finally she adds that the writing may take different forms, maybe either short stories or articles or indeed a book. Yeah, as if! I hand over my $20 and leave.
Behind her, two violinists begin to play. The music is slow and mesmerising and I join the small crowd that forms around them as each one takes turns to hold down the rhythm whilst the other solos. It is beautiful and it is haunting. The small crowd has now turned to a large one. It seems that everyone in the square has stopped what they were doing to watch and listen. As they finish, there is complete silence until the murmuring of the crowd returns gradually as though the performance had never happened.
I am still moved by the psychic’s words but, as I scan the square, it seems she has gone. The table and her sign too. It’s as if she had never existed either.
Now it’s over two years later and I have one book published, another written and a couple of handfuls of travel articles commissioned by various magazines. And, of course, I am the winner of the “We Said Go Travel” competition.
All thanks to the fortune teller in New Orleans.