The Age of Aquarius

An encounter with a new-age jeweler on Vancouver Island leads to new perspectives on ways of being in the world.


What’s the date?

The twenty-third, I answer, without hesitation.

Oh, that’s right, she says, the moon’s in the third quarter.  Of course.

As the proprietor, sole employee, and creative energy behind this establishment, the blonde—requisite long hair pulled back messily—goes back to filling out the sales slip.

Of course, I think, the moon.  I stand there a little uncertain what to say next.  It isn’t that I don’t like the moon: I enjoy a full moon as much as the next person, I suppose, and I love a lunar eclipse.  I’m just pretty sure I’ve never used the lunar phase to verify the date.

No, no, I’m certain I never have.  

Do you take Visa? I ask hesitantly.

Of course, she responds, without looking up.  There’s nothing ‘of course’ about it, it seems to me: nothing to date has indicated any particular link to normal business practice.  How did I get here?

The small shack backing onto the beach didn’t really live up to its advertised wares—jewellery—but I was in a what-the-hell mood so I had pulled off the road twisting up the coast.  Footloose on Vancouver Island, a little south of Nanaimo, I had time to indulge my impulses.

Fifteen minutes later I had checked out the hand-made jewellery—all lapidary and New Age—and decided on a bracelet that I can’t ever let my cousin-the-jeweller see.  A strip of tan leather threads through unpolished green pebbles.  Not jade: just beach rocks.  But for some reason it suits the place, the day, and me, all at the same time.  She has a sale.

As she carries on with what seems like an unreasonable level of documentation for such a small sale, I dig out my credit card.  Finally she is ready and I hand it over.

She turns my card over in her hands, looks up at me and smiles.

I had a feeling you were an Isabel when you walked in.

I smile back.  If I had been stumped for something to say about the moon, I’m well and truly flummoxed for how to respond appropriately to this.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a feeling about what someone’s name would be, just from looking at them.

No, no, I’m certain I never have.

A few minutes later I am back in my rented car with my acquisitions: a bracelet, a knowledge of the current lunar phase, and a new appreciation of how many different ways there are to be in the world.

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Postscript     What follows is a photo from my “About Isabel Gibson” page, and the poetry it elicited from Laurna Tallman.  She did another two as well.  I love photography but must say I’m pretty sure I’ve never looked at, or thought about, my photos like this.  No, no, I’m certain I never have.  Thank you, Laurna, for showing me your way of being in the world.  You don’t by any chance know what phase the moon is in, do you?

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IMG_1629_smallOMG

It’s not just a bad-hair day
the rain didn’t help
but these locks were
bleached, thinning, and sèche
before the downpour
birds have postponed
trips south on the chance
my face will ripen
in time
to fuel
the journey

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8 Comments

  1. A delicious treat. Everything about your reminiscence — subject, form, style, and diction — brings delighted laughter. The New Age idea that we are “stardust” and “have to find our way back to the Garden” ripples through your venture off the beaten track that takes you into a parallel universe where someone already knows your name. The sensitivity of your encounter and the delicacy of your descriptions heighten all the contrasts, including those between your two persona, hesitancy and certainty, now sublimated to your new way of being in the world. Your cousin-the-jeweller should be so lucky!

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Laurna – Well, your comment brings me to a ripple of laughter, too. Just as it isn’t good for our sense of proportion to have more than one friend who thinks we’re totally, totally wonderful (totally!), so it wouldn’t be good for bloggers to have too many commenters like you. But I’m glad I have you! Thanks for your kind words.
      As for the universe where somebody already knows my name, I think I see the outlines of a pitch for a new TV show: “Medium Cheers”. A beer drinker (let’s call him “Norm”) goes on a cross-country pub crawl, only to encounter neighbourhood bars filled with (unbeknownst to him) psychics. You can imagine the opening scene of every show…

      1. Year ago, I got off the beaten track from a sales conference in Charlottetown with a borrowed car. Early spring is not the best time to see PEI but I was wearing fashionable boots to the knee that allowed me to wade through snow and tidal puddles. They got me to a small coastal farmhouse that, to my dismay, had been abandoned. Bits of its facade lay on the sand. Its door half off its hinges, I could see the rosy floral wallpaper peeled in strips; a small pump organ tipped down the collapsing floor into salt water. I kept a curl of the weathered, mossy gingerbread. I wish I had gotten back to the pub so one of your psychics could have told me “the rest of the story.”

        1. Isabel Gibson

          Laurna – Yes, I know intellectually that nothing lasts (well, maybe “no things” last) but I find abandoned homes particularly poignant. I wish you’d gotten back to the pub too! I’m curious.

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