I was 17 when I visited my best friend in San Francisco. We'd know each other since elementary school and as a birthday gift, she got me a plane ticket to see her. I'd never been to California and everything I saw amazed me and looked better than anything we had at home. We were walking down the hilly streets of the city when a gypsy lady stopped us.
"Palm reading?" she asked.
It was the first time I'd ever seen a gypsy in person. Large hoops, a scarf purple scarf tied around her head, and a mole on her chin. I shook my head.
"I'll read yours for free," she said point her gnarled finger at me.
I looked back at my friend, up and down the street that suddenly seemed empty, and held out my hand. What the hell? It was free?
She stared and the dips and valleys of my palm and the deep dark lines that have always made my hands looked older. She looked up and said, "You have a writer's hand. It can tell great stories..."
After that, my memory fades about what she said. I do remember when my friend asked if she would read hers the woman grumbled, "$5!". She didn't have it read. Later, I called my mom and told her about it. My mom, the mystic, said, "She saw something in you." My mom has always told me people see something in me. I attributed it to that.
Last week, I was in California again. This time Los Angeles. I went to one of the largest writer's conferences, AWP. Thousands of people attended and swarmed like bees to a hive all seeking the same thing. Recognition. Validation. Admiration. I felt somewhat anonymous. I slipped in and out of panel discussions about writing YA literature to writing memoir. I walked in and out of the aisles in the book fair. I listed to the buzz of conversation about authors and poets and pedagogy. At this point in my career, I am no one. I tweet. I have a blog. I have published some stories, but no one knows my name. I am no Claudia Rankin. I am a youngster making my bones. But, in the back of my head, I remembered the gypsy lady. I'd written about her for another piece that currently sits in limbo, so I won't add another level mysticism by staying it suddenly came to me.
But, as I looked at all the people zooming in and out, fluttering from table to table, I felt a comfort. I just have to keep moving forward. I will tell great stories, I thought. It says so on my hand.