When Leela was nine years old, she realized that she could see auras. She thought it was just rainbows around people. She told her mother and the mother took her to a “specialist,” thinking her little girl was autistic.
When she was 12, she discovered that she knew things that others didn’t know. She could, for example, deduce the real intentions of the adults around her. She sensed when people were lying. She felt Uncle Harry’s evil intent beyond the gifts and smiles and extravagant attentions.
When she was still a teenager she learned how to astral project—how to have out-of-body experiences whenever she wanted—and how to tune in to people’s thoughts and emotions. She became an empath without really understanding what was going on.
I learned all of this while sitting on Leela’s whitewashed deck overlooking the palm trees and shabby apartment buildings in rent-controlled Santa Monica, California. She had scored a somewhat shabby apartment building of her own—six singles, no frills—when she finally divorced her evasive husband.
“I married this guy when I was just 19—”
“A child, really.”
“—yeah, a child, ’cause that was just what you did then. They wanted to marry you off, get you out of the house, start raising a family.” She made a face; she had never reproduced, didn’t believe in it.
“My father had died the year before, so maybe I was looking for a new daddy, too. He was only 53. Hit by a lady drunk driver at 11 in the morning about three blocks from where we lived.” She shook her head and looked away.
“My father died at 53 too. Heart attack.”
Leela looked at me strangely. “You didn’t like your father much, did you. Or rather he didn’t like you. He had a terrible temper, right? I’m getting this image of a lot of snow and a little boy almost naked running through the snow being chased by a red monster. Wow.”
My jaw dropped open. “Leela, are you psychic or something?” I asked. This was very confidential information, known only to my two former shrinks. That image, the stuff of nightmares, was stored in my unconscious mind. “What else?” I said.
“Well, it was almost an arranged marriage. I’m talking about me, now,” she giggled. “Barry was good-looking and came from a good family and had a job in real estate. He was my first man. I was a virgin on our wedding night.”
“Well, not exactly.” Leela laughed, a hearty, surprising laugh from deep in her throat. “And luckily there was no conception, because I was on the pill.”
We bantered so easily, as if we had known each other for years. This was our first “date,” actually. After my new friend from the meditation center rescued me on that drunken, dangerous night—no one had died in that car accident, fortunately—and taken me home with him to the Tantra House, it took awhile before I was cleaned up and sobered up enough to face the light of day, much less meet my goddess.
It took a month. It was like being born again, leaving behind a broken body and a broken past and given a chance to start afresh. I had blown the temp gigs and got evicted from the Valley pad. My ragged old Toyota had been towed after sitting on the street for a month. I had no money, no job, no home, no car, and no future. I was just a nobody.
It was wonderful.