It is an undeniable human trait that we are constantly searching for connection. Sometimes we fight to connect, sometimes we love. But inside of all connection is the universal desire to be found. In a way, this card points to the liminal space itself, or rather the exit from the liminal space. The space between movements, it’s the decision to change and move forward and it is often the loneliest experience we will ever have. This space is almost always full of immense uncertainty, but as are all great things before they become great. We cannot know outcomes until they appear and we often don’t know what character we are playing in any given story until it’s time to tell the story. There’s a reason for that and I’ve come to understand that we are being watched and this life, while high and low, is a performance on a celestial level. But who, or what, is watching? And why? In it’s full capacity, this card is a secret hint on a great cosmic test of separation and non-attachment, letting us know that solitude exists only as long as we choose for it to exist. Though connection may not be immediate, this card offers a guarantee that solitude is ALWAYS a temporary mindset and usually a self-made prison. We must allow ourselves to be filled with wonder once again, to seek beyond ourselves and truly believe that we are not alone. We must look to the sky for answers, the one above us and the one inside of our minds.
My mom had me at 21 years old, and as a 27 year old now, I am unable to fathom having a 6 year old child. I look back and I see the ways she tried to live out her youth while still being a parent, like going dancing on weekends with friends at a line dancing bar called Cowboys. It quickly became one of my favorite things to watch her get ready before she went out. The late 90’s, especially in the South, brought out oily blowouts and Shania Twain hair volume, denim on denim on denim, and fire engine red lipstick that would stain a man’s collar in a heartbeat. I would sit on the back of her toilet in her bathroom while she got ready and mimic her motions in the mirror. The way she would grab all of her long brunette hair, spray a bunch of hairspray onto it, shake it around and then pull it all over onto her right shoulder. Add in long crimson acrylics and a pierced pinky nail and it was her signature look. I couldn’t get enough of it and I tried so hard to will my hair to grow out like hers, which was thwarted each time she made me get a haircut. It’s true what they say that kids see god inside of their parents. She was my god and I watched her like a hawk, making sure she was always near and if she wasn’t, I would break into screaming hysterics until she came back. I was the worst, I know. But I knew, in my heart, that she would be safe if it were just us. No more boyfriends, just me and her forever. I grew to be extremely protective over her, but never overstepped because her word was law. I would examine the way men would see her out in public. She would constantly get asked out on dates and each time, I found myself hiding behind her, as if I intuitively knew in that moment, she wished I didn’t exist. Because having a kid and no husband made her less desirable. I hid as much as I could, but they always saw and never cared. Or maybe they really didn’t ever notice me at all because they were so wrapped up in her. It was a beautifully bizarre magnetism that I am almost positive she had no clue she had. It was just in her, radiating from the inside out. I remember the time she met Shawn at this grocery store, someone she would come to date for only a couple months. He was very charming and would buy me toys and didn’t hit her, so I decided he was worthy of her time. He was an executive for a growing technology company in Atlanta and I could tell immediately that he was infatuated with my mom but that she was relatively uninterested. She liked a bad boy and the second someone started to really treat her well, she’d break up with them not long after. I think maybe she thought the kindness was a lie? Or a manipulation to get something specific from her? Maybe that she thought she didn’t deserve the kindness? Whatever the reason, the good guys never won with her. He drove a very nice car and lived in a very nice house, but he would always take my mom out on dates to places that were totally average and normal, what I gather now to be something she requested. She felt incredibly uncomfortable in “fancy” situations, like the scene in Titanic where Jack has dinner with the first class. No idea what silverware to use or what different types of wine were, so scared to mispronounce something on the menu and blow her cover that she had never really experienced “nice” things. She lived a simple life and Shawn loved that about her, seeing as how he came from a very different and privileged world. Their favorite place to go on dates was this spot called Oyster King. It was one of those hole in the wall down south secret restaurants that for some reason had absolutely incredible oysters for an even more incredible price. It was a small white building on the side of the highway with a gravel parking lot and a massive red neon sign that lit up each letter individually spelling out “O-Y-S-T-E-R-K-I-N-G.” Friday’s were half priced buckets of shuck it yourself oysters and after the first few Fridays of him taking her, she decided it was time that I joined along and got to know Shawn. Shawn was fine, but I think as much as her, I was waiting for him to show his true colors and hurt us like every guy before. Before he picked us up, she looked me dead in the eye and said, “Let’s give him a chance. No funny business.” I had a habit of creating very staged dramatic scenes when she would take me along if I wasn’t getting enough attention or I didn’t like the guy. A few times I fainted, once I choked, there were a lot of really bad stomach aches and “Mom, I think I have a fever”s. Part of me thinks she actually liked that I did that because it was an immediate out from having to spend anymore time with the guy she was with, who, 9 out of 10 times, was a dud. I remember walking into Oyster King for the first time so vividly, I could probably draw it from memory, the sounds of Hootie and the Blowfish pouring out of the jukebox. The look was that of a dive bar with various bumper stickers all over the booths, bar, and doorways. A mix of high top bar tables were scattered across the floor, all facing in the same direction of a projector silently playing the X-Files onto a pinned up white sheet at the far end of the bar. I had seen the X-Files before, it was a favorite of my mother’s, even though my grandmother thought it was extremely demonic. I rarely knew what was happening on the show, but the imagery of flying saucers and abduction beams became a big curiosity of mine and also a huge fear. The first few times I watched it, I started having this recurring nightmare that a UFO would scan over all the homes in my neighborhood and take anyone who wasn’t fully underneath the covers. I developed a sort of OCD fear tick where every night I would make my mom tuck me into bed so tightly with the blanket covering everything including my head. I would fall asleep like that, only to wake up panting and gasping for fresh air. Every night was a gamble, as I would make a mental check list and make sure every piece of my body was under the covers. There were even a few times that I swore I saw a light scan by my bedroom window, stop and then keep moving, signaling that I successfully covered up my entire body and I could then fall asleep. This lasted for about a year until I slowly started to become brave enough to sleep with my hair exposed, then my eyes, mouth, then neck and shoulders.
As we sat at a high top table near the back, Shawn ordered he and my mother a bucket of bud light and a bucket of oysters with extra cocktail sauce. He told me he wanted me to try at least one oyster, but since I had never had them before, he ordered chicken fingers just in case and a shirley temple, my favorite drink at the time. The drinks came first, the oysters, then the chicken fingers. I sat quietly and stared while he and my mom talked, slurping down these truly bizarre and smelly things in grey wet shells, trying to figure out what about her he liked so much and vice versa. They sat facing each other as he very skillfully shucked some of the oysters. I sat there chugging down shirley temples, telling the waitress to bring me another one every time she walked by. Neither my mom or Shawn noticed. About 4 beers deep and nearly a full bucket of oysters, my mom asked David for a dollar so that she could play DJ and pick some songs for the jukebox. I watched her stand from the table and walk to the jukebox, as every single man in the bar turned to watch her. Shawn noticed and with a smile on his face, nudged my shoulder and said, “You’re mom is a really special lady,” to which I just stared at him and didn’t respond. She was at the jukebox for no more than 60 seconds. She knew exactly what she wanted to play and she picked the same song to play 4 times in a row. “Thunder Rolls” by Garth Brooks finished playing, followed by a brief pause and then suddenly, Gregorian chants followed by a pop beat started, which only meant one thing. That my mom had picked her all time favorite song to play, “Sadeness” by the 90’s experimental trance electronica band, Enigma. At home, she would listen to it on repeat for hours floating around as if it put her under some sort of spell. And I think in a way it actually did, even inside of this restaurant because the second it began to play, the entire bar joined in on the collective movement, tapping their feet or nodding their head or rolling their shoulders, as my mom stood in the middle of the floor dancing with her arms over her head, all eyes on her. I didn’t understand why she liked that song. I found the song to be rather sinister, with minor melodies and sounds I had never heard before all supporting these chants in another language. It made goosebumps appear all over my body, it was just so incredibly other worldly. As my mother danced, I found my gaze being pulled back to the X-Files playing in the background without sound. All that could be heard was Enigma. The scene playing was high intensity, the detectives chasing some sort of UFO about to crash in the woods. As the UFO crashed, they sped up and approached it with such caution. At this moment, the Enigma song playing began to swell and grow louder towards it’s climax, as my gaze flipped back and forth between the show and my mom, the show and my mom, the show and my mom. Her dancing grew more erratic as the detectives continued to approach the UFO, she continued to dance, the music grew louder. As they finally reached the UFO, it slowly opened up and spilled out some disgusting goo that was meant to represent the alien life inside of the ship. The image was so repulsive and shocking to my child brain and in that exact moment, David tapped me on the shoulder and presented an oyster he had shucked for me. His tap startled me because my gaze had been so fixated on the show and my mom and as I took one look down at the slimy oyster and back to the goo on the X-Files, I let out a blood curdling scream in the middle of the bar as my brain forged an impenetrable link that oysters were actually alien guts, therefore enforcing what I had believed all along….that aliens were 10000% real, without a doubt in the universe and that they were here, inside of the Oyster King, coming to abduct me. I couldn’t sleep that night and found myself sleeping under all of the covers again, barely able to breathe. The tick this time around lasted for about 3 years, until it was replaced with another abduction based recurring nightmare thanks to the M. Night Shyamalan film, Signs.
It took me many years to process my very real fears around alien abduction, considering nearly every film made about them at the time focused on war, conquest, and violent abductions and experimentations. Part of me thinks I may have actually been abducted as a child because the fear was so gut wrenching and the thoughts of other life out there consumed a large portion of my childhood. Or maybe it’s that I am an alien and my curiosity, fear, and interest was actually a longing to go home. But the question always came up; If they came to take me home, would they let me bring my earth mom too? Perhaps that is where the fear actually came from. That so much of me would be left behind, that I wasn’t finished with this life, that I wasn’t done playing the role I had grown to genuinely relate to. On the other side of that fear, I found my way back to the curiosity, and even a peace that perhaps we were being observed or searched for even, rather than hunted. This didn’t really come until after my mom passed, but in her memory, I also found a serious love for Enigma. I totally get her obsession now. It’s amazing. In my deepest valleys of grief, the painful late nights where no one was available to answer calls or texts, the liminal spaces I thought would last forever, and when sleep was not an option for my overactive brain, I found myself thinking about the aliens and what they thought about observing my experience right then. Were they worried? Were they scared? Were they entertained? Do they know what happens next? It almost breaks the solitude spell in a way, just knowing in that moment in between where you have no answers and no signal, that you are not alone in this uncertain, yet temporary place. Connection is on it’s way, even if it takes a few million light years.