At The Psychic's
Laura Payne


 

We are taking Dozer to the psychic on Tuesday. Shannon from the co-op recommended him to us.
 
My husband thinks it is silly, but I can see that it is necessary. Since Dozer came home two months ago he has been peeing on the oriental rugs whenever I go to work and he has chewed up the arm of the nice leather couch. Don thinks we need a different dog, but I explain that if I had a baby we would not be able to switch him out for another baby. This shuts Don up even though he knows I will never have a baby. I also use this logic to convince him to let Dozer sleep in the bed with us, crushing our ankles and drooling on the new duvet.
 
Shannon checks out my groceries every Friday when I go shopping after work and I have kept her up to date with Dozer drama. When she first mentioned the psychic, even I laughed at it. But every time she mentioned it, it seemed less out there. Shannon is the type of person who wears loose flowery tops and speaks in a slow, quiet voice that makes you think what she is saying is ancient wisdom.
 
Shannon took her three-year-old terrier, Coco, to the psychic after the twelve-year-old terrier, Milo, went to doggy heaven. Coco was going mad with grief, she tore up her dog bed, she whined all day and all night, she wouldn’t eat her food, Shannon says.
 
What the psychic said to Coco was this: “Your friend is in a better place, you must move on without him.”
 
Since then Coco has been happy as she was as a puppy. I even met Coco once when I ran into Shannon in the park. Coco is a very put-together dog. That is when I decided we should take Dozer in.
 
The thing is, I have never been to a real person-psychic. But I was given a prediction once, by my boyfriend. We were lying in bed in a college apartment and I was upset about something, like how I thought I wanted to quit my job or how I was ugly: my nose was large and oily and I wasn’t good at anything. He was always quiet when I complained. But this one time he rolled over to face me and looked at me in the dark and said: “You are going get old and buy a house in the country.” I don’t know what he meant, or if he was partly asleep when he said it, or if he thought this was a comfort, but it was. It was the most comforting thing I had ever heard. I think about it all the time and I think it’s because no one ever had that much confidence in my doing anything, especially myself. It became the only thing in my life that was definite. He thought I could do it, and so no matter what boring job I had or leaky apartment I was living in, I had this one thing in my future that was unmoving.
 
I begin to see myself the way I thought he would see me in my dreams: with a ponytail, wearing loose-fitting jeans, pulling up the soft land, keeping chickens, getting up when it is still a dark purple outside, but not being mad about it in the way I was waking up for work in the city. I see myself waking up under a heavy quilt in a wooden room and hearing the kind of quiet that is not terrifying.
 
Sometimes I think back to what he said then and give it the importance of being the moment that I knew I would marry him.
 
Except he was not the person I married, I do not live in the country. I am not sure if I can consider myself older yet, but the image becomes blurrier as I get closer to it, as I begin to realize what I was approaching from a distance was something else entirely all along.

*

I wake my husband up early because the appointment with the psychic is on a Saturday morning. His hands get all scratched up trying to get Dozer into his carrier in the back of the car. He has travel anxiety, I explain.
 
We arrive and Don pats my hand before we get out of the car. It is a small white house on a cul-de-sac. A gray-haired man opens the door before we are able to knock. He speaks quietly like Shannon and bows his head to us. We take off our shoes and sit cross-legged on a colorful braided rug. The man, Jaime, sits across from us. I notice his own dog, a thin white-faced animal that we didn’t even see at first because he is sitting so still and quiet in the corner of the room. Jaime asks us a few questions about Dozer and says hmmmm a lot for a good five minutes. Then he puts on a solemn face and explains to us that our Dozer…is motivated…. (he is speaking so slowly that I feel drunk) … by a great fear of abandonment…
 
So, Jaime approaches Dozer on all fours, all the while whispering to us about how you must be on the same level as the animal to make a psychic connection. Dozer is confused and unsure of the statue-like dog in the corner. Dozer is whimpering, but Jaime inches closer and puts both hands on either side of his jowls. Don and I decide to act like this is something normal. I feel the heat of embarrassment coming from both of us. I try to speak up about how good Dozer is being because he is not squirming or barking, but Jaime shushes me. Don pats my knee, which is crossed next to his. Dozer and Jaime continue unbroken eye contact. This process is taking forever. I close my eyes and try to do the meditative breathing that Shannon gave me a pamphlet about. Instead I am thinking about the fight Don and I got into when I revealed to him this session cost 40 dollars. I try to send my smooth breathing over to him so that we are both in a place of calm, us and Jamie and Dozer and the other dog, all calm. Maybe this is the turning point at which everything will become good. Maybe next year we’ll move to the country, the open fields will cure Dozer. If I keep breathing like this I can see him, way beyond the barn, rolling in wildflowers, and I am on the porch with someone’s firm hand around my waist like an anchor.
 
I wake back up to Dozer’s loud, clear bark.
 
What the dog psychic tells him is this: “You are here to stay.”
 
Maybe if someone had told me this I wouldn’t feel the sense of urgency, the sense of something passing me by, of always being on a broken conveyer belt. Maybe I could take the photograph in my mind of the country and place it on the wall along with a calendar of destinations I have never been and just think of it as just that: a place that will never be real, at least not to me.
 
But for now this is the best I can do. Dozer is here to stay, whether he ruins the carpets again or not, and whether or not Don is here to stay I don’t know. I only wish he would say, say anything, but he won’t talk about anything later than now. He won’t even answer me when I ask where he wants to get dinner tonight. We’ll decide then.
 
When we step outside it is dusk and I imagine us driving for hours just circling the cul-de-sac. We will circle until it is dark. We are both dizzy and Dozer is whining again, but it will still feel better to be in motion, because once everything comes to a stop and we gain our footing again-it will be like stepping off of a merry-go-round, everything is back to normal, except for the way your head and stomach are spinning.
 
Inevitably, we leave the cul-de-sac. Inevitably, we pick a place to order take-out and Dozer pees on the rug and we fight again in tiny voices so as not to get him riled up, so we are quiet and yelling at the same time.