Angostura Lyons lives in a round house nestled in the hills of Laurel Canyon and accepts new clients only through referral. Bernadette encouraged Brie to complete an online introductory course to Esperanto before seeing him because he dreams of the day he can conduct his readings solely in the international language and gets mopey if you can't at least say hello.
Brie parks near the statue of the Sacred Bull, as instructed, and googles common Esperanto phrases.
Hello = Saluton! Easy enough.
How are you? = Kiel vi fartas? Brie tries this one out, but can't get past the fart part. She scrolls down the list and sees that Mi bezonas vin means I need you, and she murmurs this to herself all the way to the elaborately carved front door.
Angostura answers immediately, a regal crown of dreadlocks twisted atop his head. He wears a woman's kimono open to reveal his smooth dark chest and a hulking metal necklace with an amethyst medallion that hangs down to his navel. On the bottom, he's wearing shiny black cycling shorts and a pair of pretty fabulous clear plastic heels.
Brie holds up her right hand like a greeting alien, or someone preparing to testify. "Saluton. Mi bezonas vin."
"Child," he says in his Trinidad accent, opening his arms. "You in di hands of God." Ango pulls her close and Brie melts a little. "Curly girl told me all 'bout you. Is dere a queer astrologer on dat list of yours, cause girl, you smellin' fiiine!" He pushes her back and opens his mouth to release a giant laugh echoing into the canyon. "Mi nur ŝercas. Dat mean I jus fuckin' wit ya. Come in, Starchild. Let see how dese planets pushin' on you."
The house is a giant terrarium—walls and ceilings of glass enclosing a jungle of ferns and orchids and furniture from the seventies. Angostura brews a pot of star anise tea and eyes the glass ceiling to track the sun. He drags a pair of embroidered meditation cushions to the spot where the sun shines brightest and taps the empty cushion for Brie to sit.
He takes her hands. "Dis hard, dis parta life. An' nobody warn us what comin' 'cept talkin' 'bout da hill and gettin' over it. But it be deeper dan dat. It be fuller. More meaning." He taps his chest. "Spirit. God. Dis da time you find God inside you."
Brie smiles. "God's not on my list."
Ango laughs out loud again as he pours their tea. "Forty. Dat what you headin' for. Dat what dis all about, Girl. Da Buddha start his teaching when he forty. God call out Muhammed when he forty. Moses come know God when he forty. Dat flood in da bible... rain forty days, forty nights. But dis all what we call metaphor. Bring down da universe and put da teachings in stories, so we can understand. What all dis really? Da planets. You have hard time turnin' thirty? Dat be Saturn, comin' round da bend to where it be when you born. Saturn want you make changes. Kreski! he say. Grow up! If you don't, you gonna make it harder on yourself come Pluto, and Girl, he comin' now for you. Mr. Pluto want control you, but he fightin' Uranus and dat boy want set you free. Den Lil' Miss Neptune come makin' her square, and she confusin' you crazy like. She make you think what you thought ain't real. Like you nothin', like you got nothin'. Dey all up dere in da sky fightin' and pushin' and Boom-shakalaka—midlife crisis. So what give, Mama? Dis what: You got to change. Out wit da old, in wit da new. Dis the time you start gettin' ready, 'cause you turn forty, you no longer be young. You not old, but you not young. So you got make transition. You got dig inside and know who you be. You got draw from da well of your existence and let da others drink, insteada drinkin' from some uddabody's well. Okay, Mama?" Ango holds his teacup high. "Now drink."
Angostura turns his kimono inside out and sets about arranging crystals on the floor surrounding Brie. He opens a wooden box of minerals and gemstones and looks at her. "So what you want?"
Brie peers into the box.
"From life, Girl."
Brie slumps in thought, drawing a smooth breath "I want to be me. And once I'm me, I want to find him."
Ango smiles wide and nods. He thrums his lips as he peruses his minerals by touching one long elegant finger to each and then looking at Brie. He does this until his large right palm is laden with an assortment of the earth's inner bling. "Dis Tiger Eye, for confidence and change," Ango says, pointing at the striped stone. "Dis one Citrine, for direction." Then he points to a pink milky stone and says, "Rose quartz, for self love. Not da master-of-bation, Sexy Girl, but you lovin' the person you be. And dis," he says, pinching a round orange stone that seems to glow from within. "Dis Carnelian. Dis call da mister to you when you be ready. We talkin' soulmate. We talkin' da man dat know you from before, in spirit. He out dere, close. He waitin' till you get your shit together, Starchild."
Ango takes Brie's hands and fills them with the stones. Then he asks her to tell him.
His touch startles her. "Tell you what?"
He smiles, his eyes glinting. "You know."
A powerful wave of emotion crashes down on her. Brie closes her eyes and raises her face to the sun. "I feel so behind. Like I missed something, like I forgot to learn how to be and I'm stranded back ten years watching everyone I know keep going. The places I still go, the way I've acted—all the shit I've pulled, drunk and stupid, pushing everyone away, and telling myself and everybody else stories about why they left." She looks at Ango with serious eyes. "I want to grow up, but I don't how. I don't even know what it means."
Ango stretches his arms out and smiles. "You be grown up when you own who you be. Stop tryin' ta be somebody else and just be you. Love your heart, love your soul, love your mind, love your body, love your face. Dis all reflection of da years that make you you. Dat all, Girl. Shed da skin dat tink yesterday betta dan today. Shed it down, till you meet yourself and smile."
Brie catches her reflection in the window and realizes that every time she looks in the mirror, she doesn't see herself, she sees the time she's wasted, just an older version of her younger self.
"Pretend today da first day of your life and just be you. Repeat after me, Mi amas min."
"Mi amas min," she says.
"In Esperanto, dat mean I love me."
The sun has shifted, the bright spot behind her, but the shade feels good. And for a moment, in the window, she sees herself.
YOU ARE READING
Brie Baggio thinks she's ready... for marriage, kids, the whole shebang. She's pushing forty, and even though she's the Senior Anti-Aging Ambassador at Los Angeles's hottest med spa, Botox can't paralyze that nagging feeling that it's now or never...