WITH EACH SLOWLY PASSING WEEK, MARI BELEN’S ANTICIPATION, OF THE EVENTUAL return of Jannet to Spain, grows. Although Jannet is referred to officially, by the department, as a psychic, Mari Belen understand that Jannet is actually something other than a psychic. Mari Belen muses about her own history, albeit a limited one, with spirituality. That history involved her periodic residency at a remote catholic monastery in the Barcelona province of Spain, El Monasterio de Montserrat, which is operated by the order of St. Benedict.
Mari Belen attends monastic retreat every two or three years for a duration of one to two weeks. The first retreat she attended was perhaps the most propitious one. As a teenager, she had attacked a teenage boy, in the school cafeteria, breaking his nose during an altercation. It was her last year of high school but she was not expelled after she explained the reason for her assault. She believed that she and another female friend had consumed an alcoholic beverage that had been laced with drugs. This had been at a weekend party and she believed that she and her friend had been targeted. She and her friend avoided potentially unpleasant consequences, at that party, because two other women friends persuaded them to leave the party early. Mari Belen was informed, the next day, of the unsavory reputation of some of male hosts of the party and she impulsively started to ask around; this was her first, although unofficial, investigative effort. A few days later, she confronted one of the teenage boys, in the school cafeteria, and he taunted her while admitting his complicity, and Mari Belen duly pounced on him.
Mari Belen did have a reputation as someone with an aggressive personality. However, she was not suspended from school when she presented the full circumstances/motives concerning her attack. Nevertheless, Mari Belen had to agree to several sessions with the school counselor, for her anger issues, and she had to agree to two weeks of contemplative retreat at a monastery. Much to her surprise, she found that she enjoyed the meditative and serene environment, the daily no-talking periods, the community work, and the scheduled stoppages for prayer or quiet reflections that occurred throughout the day and night. Since her high school days, over 30 years ago, she has attended retreats at least 9 or 10 times and the last time, when she attended a retreat, was as recently as 18 months ago. Each retreat, over the years, allowed her another opportunity to reenter an introspective monastic community. She got to know many of the monks and the sisters over the years; although the female monastic community was housed separately several miles away. She became close to one particular young monk during her many retreats over the years. She had enjoyed many earnest and honest conversations with him over the intervening years. That particular monk eventually has risen in rank within the hierarchy of the monastery yet he still finds time to converse with Mari Belen when she makes her infrequent visits. Overall she has found the retreats to be restorative.
Mari Belen feels that there might be some element of spirituality regarding Jannet’s capabilities. But mostly she believes that Jannet is simply exceptional. This conviction in Jannet’s exceptionality prompts Mari Belen to spend time researching and reading about exceptional individuals, with emphasis on empaths and synesthetes in particular. Although her research is a private one, she is surprised to learn that Umberto and Carlos Jon have also been conducting their own independent research.
She contacts individuals in one of the new age communities in Madrid and arranges to meet other local empaths and synesthetes. She discovers that only a few million individuals worldwide have some significant form and/or degree of synesthesia, about 1/20 of one percent of the world population. She discovers that out of nearly 7 billion people on the planet, only 1/20 of one percent to perhaps 2/20 of one percent of the population have some significant form or degree of empathic abilities. Mari Belen knows that Jannet has highly developed abilities in both categories. She deduces that Jannet is part of an extremely rarified percentage of the population.
Jannet’s last few weeks in Portland are dominated by her teaching job, she is an 80% fulltime employee of the community college system during this short semester. Although she prefers to walk or to take public transportation, which is abundant, during her present work week she has to drive often, and on some days she has to make the roundtrip to the community college, on NE 82nd Avenue, twice a day. She owns a fairly new Fiat 4 door SUV model that is colored metallic gray.
Secondarily she spends a generous amount of time with Sara Jean, at times as an unofficial advisor in the woman’s new role as part-time executive director of the PAG and at other times as friends. Sara Jean has, of course, spent time hanging out at Jannet’s apartment at the Pacific building. Sara Jean unfortunately has sporadically continued her annoying habit of committing Jannet without informing Jannet in advance. In one instance, Sara Jean initiated a lease for several months, for some vacant office space in the Pacific building; she approached Jannet with a new approved annual budget for the organization and she asked her to donate 10% of their projected revenue. The overall budget of $98,000 has been allocated with about 25% for modest staff salaries and stipends, 35% for rents and utilities, and the remainder for events and project costs. The newly formed organization is now a 501(c)3 and it is playing fiscal catchup. It has fundraised only about 71% of its newly created and projected annual budget so far. The new offices are open, Monday through Friday, from 7.00 am to 12 noon or 1.00 pm. Sara Jean has a flexibility concerning her work hours at her accounting business. She is the co-owner of a small accounting firm. She has one business partner and they employ two part-timers. Sara Jean decides to work afternoons and some evenings at the accounting firm and she elects to spend most mornings at the PAG offices.
The new PAG offices, in the Pacific building are about 600 square feet in total, with one large main room and two tiny internal rooms, there are public restrooms at the end of their third floor hallway.
Sara Jean knows in advance that Jannet will contribute approximately $10,000 if asked for it and Jannet does follow through with the donation. Sara Jean also arranged, in advance, for Jannet to conduct consultation sessions. She has put out an exploratory announcement on the organization’s newly designed website and she has received instant inquires. She has already scheduled several consultation appointments for Jannet prior to telling Jannet about it.
“What am I supposed to do during these consultation sessions?” Jannet asked with exasperation, when she first finds out about it.
“So this will not be a typical psychic reading and you will not focus exclusively about speculative matters regarding their future. But you can listen to their present interests, concerns, or aspirations and provide solid suggestions or advice. You can provide a more comprehensive survey of their past, present, and future. And because you are an empath and synesthete, the feedback will be valid, meaningful, and beneficial. The individuals will come to our offices for the scheduled appointment, we have set up a little private serene room for this, and we have received a donation of a large screen monitor and laptop for Skype sessions. The sessions will be 25 minutes and someone in our office will log-on and log-out for the session. You will be remote and unencumbered.” Sara Jean enthuses. “Did I mention that we will charge $50 per session, which could be a 50/50 split between you and the organization?”
“What? I am not accepting money to do this.” Jannet responds; she is calmer.
“Then you will do it. That would be great. And if you have a problem with accepting the money we could keep 100% for the organization. You know we are still behind with our fundraising goals.” Sara Jean optimistically assumes that Jannet has now actually committed although she has not actually said so.
“Let see. I gave you an emergency $1,200 donation a few weeks ago and another $10,000 last week and now I will be conducting consultation sessions, which you have pre-booked without my knowledge, and then I will be donating 100% of the proceeds from the sessions to the organization. Have I recapped all of this sufficiently?” Jannet is not, in reality, angry because of her friendship with Sara Jean, but she continues to be a little perturbed by Sara Jean’s audacity.
“Oh, you left out that the sessions are two per hour for a total of three hours ideally on Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays, that is, 8.00 am through 11.00 am, if you are in Portland. And when you are in Spain, that time period would be 5.00 pm to 8.00 pm your time: you eat dinner late out there, don’t you?” Sara Jean adds with confident efficiency.
“You knew all of this in advance, didn’t you?”
“Don’t think of it that way, think of it as an excellent opportunity for the advancement of the organization.”
Jannet decides it is useless to continue to protest with Sara Jean, especially since her motivated friend, by now knows, in advance that Jannet will likely agree to everything.
Mari Belen muses about the periodic Skype sessions with Jannet. The sessions are at least three times a week, weekend nights and one other night during the work week, and the sessions occur during the 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm hour in Madrid. Mari Belen has already made plans for her soon-to-be girlfriend’s upcoming one-month stay. It is crucial for Jannet to meet her parents and other close relatives during the first week of her stay. The two women will make a side trip to the Northwest coast of Spain, in particular to visit San Sebastian and Bilbao, and Mari Belen will introduce Jannet more thoroughly to the environs of Madrid.
Mari Belen redirects her attention to the present moment. She is deposited, at the moment, in the back seat of an unmarked police car. Carlos Jon is driving and Umberto is in the front passenger seat. The three are cruising toward a weekly gym appointment for required physical training. The three are required to attend some form of intense physical training at least a few times a month and required to complete two official psychological consultation sessions every calendar quarter as well.
As Mari Belen dresses out, in the women’s locker room, for the training session, she remembers an innocuous comment made by Jannet during last Sunday’s Skype session. The name of Tess, innocently tumbled out during the conversation. Mari Belen inquired about the person and Jannet responded that Tess was her cousin, perhaps a far-removed third cousin but she was not completely sure. Jannet added that Tess has looked out for her, in one way or another, during her entire life.
Jannet was not the only one with abilities, Mari Belen thinks. Mari Belen, and her two colleagues as well, possessed some amount of intuition or gut instinct. Mari Belen’s intuition is sparking in regards to Jannet’s cousin.
Jannet’s final week in Portland, before the flight to Spain, is free of work duties. Final exams and grading are complete. Most significant, Jannet has an especially lengthy Skype session with Elena; and this session eventually segue into a broader conferencing session with other members of the small/exclusive investment group. Elena is her friend, the leader of the private friends-only investment group in Boulder, and a former grad school mate. The infrequent Skype sessions, with Elena, are typically a status report on investments, these investments are connected to the currency futures market; a market that Elena meticulously and continually researches. The latest recommendation, for the small group of Colorado friends, is to exchange any holdings of Indonesian and Malaysian currencies immediately. The timing is auspicious for a favorable return but it is a short window as Elena puts it. Later that same day, Jannet is cloistered at her bank, waiting to commence a hastily arranged appointment for international currency exchange; and her financial return turns out to be quite favorable although she has to strategize, with her financial advisor, about the best approach with dealing with the eventual capital gains issue.
She spends part of the week visiting Madelynn and her crew, the four have lunch on one occasion and then another night they attend a stunning vocal and piano recital, at Lewis and Clark College; the recital is of Mahler and Schoenberg song cycles. She also, of course, spends copious amounts of time with Sara Jean. The two agree to start the consultation sessions once Jannet has arrived in Spain.
Late in the afternoon on the final day, Becka appears at the door to her apartment. Jannet is finalizing her baggage but she opens the door of her apartment, in response to the doorbell soundings, and she is surprised to see Becka.
“We are still friends you know. Even though I have avoided calling you these past several weeks, and even though I have not returned your texts. By the way, there have been rumors spreading about you and Sara Jean, among our particular little new-age community.” She confesses. “She is your girlfriend now, right?”
“Sara Jean and I are friends only and additionally I am committed to supporting her endeavors with the PAG. And besides, I might have a new possible girlfriend, at least I hope I do, in Madrid Spain.” Jannet returns deftly. “Oh. And by the way, it is good to see you too.”
“As you already know about me, with our 20-year history, I never apologize. So, can we just hang out and I will take you to the airport in a few hours?” Becka petitions; she has already walked through the short front foyer and into Jannet’s apartment.
Of course, the two women hug and they spend a few hours chatting and swiftly reestablishing their resilient long-term friendship, prior to the airport run.