Many years ago I got on a bus as one person, and got off it as another person entirely. I had a world shattering experience. For most of my life, I’ve tied this event to the Israeli psychic, Uri Geller.
Here is the letter I recently wrote to Uri.
Here is my story…
It was the late 80s and I was in Israel. This was my “thing” during my college years. I did my dutiful daughter/student time at Johns Hopkins for the school year. Then for two or three months I would travel, which was when I truly came alive. Nobody understood this about me. My parents hated it. But they couldn’t stop me.
Typically, I would go to Israel first, for the simple reason that it felt like home from the first visit. I worked in Jerusalem for several summers, selling handmade jewelry, tending bar, even cleaning rooms at hostels. When I got bored and had saved up enough, I’d hop a ferry and make my way thru the Greek Islands.
I was headed from Jerusalem towards Haifa, bound for a ferry that would take me to Greece when this chance encounter happened.
A stranger sat down next to me and told me that I had an “interesting” mind compared to the other people on the crowded bus.
This seemed like a novel pick up line, and though I thought he was too old for me, I was still curious about what he would say next.
He told me he sensed something from my mind, like maybe I was a little psychic or… something.
The next thing he did genuinely surprised me. He started to pick unknowable facts and details from my mind. I could almost feel them being plucked, like blueberries. Some were a little squashed, not quite perfect. But still unmistakable. Names, places, things. Specific and random.
Since it was the 1980s, there was no Facebook or Instagram to mine for personal info. I thought my luggage tag might be showing, but I didn’t have a luggage tag. If I did, it didn’t have my childhood pet’s name on it or that of my siblings. My heart began to race and I had the hot, dizzy, sweaty feeling of fate. It wasn’t just the heat. It was an unmistakable feeling – those crystalized moments outside time you know you won’t forget.
The man on the bus proceeded to tell me he was a world famous psychic. That he could bend spoons. He showed me a worn book from the 70s.
I was blissfully ignorant to his fame.
He asked me if I had any metal items, something I could spare. I had a key in my pocket from the hostel I’d just left. I pulled it out. He held his hand above mine and the key bent.
“You could probably do it too,” he told me. And I almost believed him.
By now I was rattled. I was slamming the open doors in my mind, like someone running through their house after receiving unexpected guests, shutting the doors to the bedrooms with unmade beds. Don’t look in that room!
He turned to chat with some of the other people on the bus, a few who knew of him and were dazzled to find themselves on a bus with a celebrity! It was unusual for him be on the bus. Some strange twist of fate and friend or car trouble had delivered him there. He amused the rows behind us, dazzling them and their kids by making watch hands spin on their watches.
At the end of the ride he asked me to dinner. I all but ran away, which I soon regretted.
I was too shook. Literally shaking. Somewhere between Haifa and Jerusalem, I vacated the self I knew, and was still busy trying to stuff my consciousness back into the new version of myself.
Maybe it would have been less of an existential crisis for someone else, but for me it felt personal and made me question everything.
I spent the entire ferry ride to Greece staring at my bent key, trying to unbend it with my mind, trying to cling to that sweet taste of impossible magic. Like a good dream you try and drowsily slip back into when you’ve already begun to wake up.
And then life went on. I never managed to bend any keys myself. Eventually I stopped trying.
Uri responded almost immediately.
“it wasn’t me”
That story made me feel special, somehow. And though it hadn’t mattered in the moment, it made more sense with a recognizable name in the retelling. I was hoping for a perfect epilogue.
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