This week’s exercise in A Year in the Life was to write about a word we’d learned from someone else, and the context in which we’d learned it. I wrote about the word prescient, which I learned from my best friend, Katrina.
I was sitting at my kitchen table in my studio apartment in Duluth, a full year after Katrina had moved out. She was in Vermont studying Environmental Law, and she’d sent me the denim fairy bag I still take with me almost everywhere, along with a several-page handwritten letter. The letter commented on the “European Adventure” concept album I had sent her, saying that she could feel the yearning and wanderlust of the story when she listened to it. She also was writing a response to something I had written to her, when we were still navigating the aftermath of the temporary fissure her relationship with Chris introduced to our friendship.
I remember cathartic tears running down my face as I wrote her emails trying to work out and articulate what had happened, and at one point, I told her that the hardest part was knowing that I would no longer be her primary relationship.
For years, Katrina was the one to pick me up from the airport, to hear my frustrations at the end of a difficult day at work, my emergency contact number, my first resort when I wanted a companion for watching movies or going to art exhibits and used bookstores. I was the same to her. But when Chris entered the picture, all that changed. Chris became Katrina’s first resort. And I could no longer count on Katrina as my primary relationship because I couldn’t accept that imbalance. But it would be years before I found anyone else to fill that role (although that forced me to become my own primary relationship, and to reach out in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise, until strangers became friends, so ultimately it was for the best.)
Still, I wasn’t there yet that summer of 2008. And when Katrina responded to what I’d said about losing my primary relationship, she said, “You were more prescient than I was, Lacey — I wasn’t yet ready to accept that that was what was happening.”
And I’d never heard that word she’d used to describe me, prescient. So I looked it up, and learned that it meant “foreknowledge of what is to come.”
Is it because Katrina taught me that word that it is still beautiful to my ears? Even though her usage of it confirmed the painful truth I knew at the time, it still struck me as beautiful even then. Perhaps because it sounds so much like “precious.”
Prescient. Katrina used to say she thought I was psychic, because of the little things I noticed, the way I was able to predict how various dramas in our own lives and our friends’ would play out. The truth is, I believe that we all have a certain level of prescience if we quiet ourselves enough to listen to it. This is one of the reasons I read Tarot, because it helps me still myself inside and uncover what I already know. To get back in touch with my prescience…
Most likely, what Katrina called “prescience” was the compounded pain of others I had loved and had to let go–my best friend from childhood as we drifted apart as adults, my younger sister as she grew up into a life path that no longer was just two steps behind mine.
So perhaps my prescience was not so remarkable, just a touch of cynicism and the sense of familiarity of having done this before. But never with anyone like Katrina. Perhaps I was the one with the prescience to know my role as her primary relationship had been replaced, but she was the one with the prescience to keep reaching out, to know there was something beyond our temporary pain; she was the one with the prescience to know that what we had between us was changeable–but absolutely irreplaceable.