A few years ago, I loved tarot cards.

I tried to read them and looked up their meanings. I liked the idea of peering into the past and future, the idea that every moment, every experience, had a hidden meaning.

I even tried to draw my own once, but only got as far as one card. I eventually abandoned my fixation with them. But when I pre-ordered How To Be A Person In The WorldI ordered from Barnes and Nobles. A pop up appeared, inviting me to order the version that would come included with a tarot card selected by Havrilesky herself.

Why not? I figured, adding it to my cart.

When I talked to Heather weeks later at her book reading at Motorco, her eyes widened when I mentioned the cards.

“I haven’t even started those yet,” she grimaced. “Don’t expect it for awhile.”

I didn’t, and kind of forgot about it. Which brings me to today, and the conversation I had with Rachel while on an ice cream run.

“I’m going to grab some ice cream from that new market, Rail something,” I told my parents, eyes on my phone.

“Do you want me to open these?” Rachel texted.

It was a picture of a package from Random House.

“Yeah, go ahead.” I replied, waving to my parents and walking out the door.

After foregoing the ice cream for key lime yogurt, I got back in the car, and continued to text Rachel as the A/C got started. I asked about the contents of the package, and as I was sending it, she called. I put her on speaker, pulling out of my space as she described what she found inside.

“It’s a tarot card,” she explained, her voice cracking a bit through the phone. “The Magician.”

I turned my blinker on, the phone resting on my bare legs, looking right and left, before pulling out of the lot.

“That’s strange. Does it say what it means?” I asked.

“Yeah…” she read it to me as I drove, down the dimly lit streets of my parents sleepy town.

“You’ll get everything you want,” Rachel said. “But you need to make sure to be careful what you ask for. Make sure it’s what you really want.”

“Interesting…” I mused, taking another left down an even dimmer street.

“Dude, we miss you!” she continued, her voice cracking again with the slightly shoddy reception. “Everyone asks about you.”

I smile, thinking about all of my Alivia’s co-workers back in Durham. The confident, straight-forward front of house manager Emily, who would sit outside with me until late hours of the night, drinking beer smoking cigarettes (her, not me). Then there was the soft-spoken, caring owner Jason, who called me one night after a bad shift to tell me he appreciated me. Then, my beloved Stacey, who trained me and on many occasions exchanged eye-rolls with me during ridiculous situations, and the almost always energetic, hilarious Peter, who could always make me laugh and nicknamed me “Tink”.

A colorful, charismatic cast of characters.

Getting a job at Alivia’s kind of seemed like magic at first. I needed more money, and faced with a feeling of stagnation at my other role, I decided to apply as a server. I was hired within a few weeks, and I quickly became assimilated into the Alivia’s family, even dating one of them for a short spell.

Stacey and I on my birthday.


It was an endeavor that saved me, in a lot of different ways. The last morning I spent in Durham was actually on the Alivia’s patio, one last breakfast before I left town. Rachel was my server, I drank my standard black coffee, scrambled eggs, and avocado, and we talked about the future with Stacey.

I hugged them both goodbye, and said: “I’ll be back,” with a vague mention of possibly going to Idaho.

“Idaho?” Stacey questioned, calling after me as I walked out the door.

“Tell them I miss them, too.” I grinned. “Tell them I’ll be back if my dreams don’t come true.”

Rachel, the girl I’m on the phone with, was another way getting that job saved me. One morning during a particularly slow brunch, four of us sat at the employee claimed booth, the closest one to the kitchen.

“I feel like all the pieces are coming together,” I told another server, about my desire to pick up and travel again. “But I just have that duplex I don’t want to give up. I wish I could find someone to stay there for awhile.”

“We really need a place to stay,” Rachel was saying about her, and her boyfriend, Chris. “For just a couple weeks.”

I looked across the table and our eyes met, eyebrows raised, as if to say: what are you talking about?

It was determined quickly that they would take the duplex. I would hit the road with Morrie. Tonight, a part of our conversation was confirming that Rachel would extend her time there for another few weeks, and I would continue to travel.

It kind of feels like fate, especially when I remember that one, single tarot card I drew for my unfinished deck: The Magician. It’s difficult to go through a transition like this and not see everything as a sign from the universe to go on. Some people might think I’m being naive, but I like the idea that there’s some force that cares enough about me to send along some encouragement to push forward.

I hang up with Rachel, and sit at my laptop to get some work done. But first, I quickly Google The Magician card. I laugh when I read the definition, then go back to planning a trip to Montreal, excited.

“With the Magician Tarot card, you are inspired to apply skill and initiative to accomplish all your goals. You have a strong desire to begin something new, to ‘do, act, or go forth’. A ‘can-do’ attitude and strong sense of optimism will dominate a new beginning and thus the decisions that you make will have positive results. The Magician card sees you creating success in everything that you do.”

Source: https://www.biddytarot.com/tarot-card-meanings/major-arcana/magician/