Generally speaking, I do not hang my hat on astrology or its many, many adjacent practices. I believe in the general sentiment of Love and that we can share our energy, for better or for worse, with others. I know we are beings in nature, surrounded by nature, and so we must be affected by nature. These are maybe ideas that you agree with or don’t agree with, and they are my attempt at finding a comfy spot in my own beliefs, which are in relationship with others’ beliefs.

So, for example, when two different friends told me a week or so ago that there are seven planets in retrograde and that energies would be intense through the end of the year, I’m not the sort who was like, “batten down the hatches and hang onto your hats!” But I can totally buy into the notion that, as the world turns and nature prepares for winter and such, things are going to change; people are going to get antsy. We feel the effects of shifting seasons and the stress that comes with entering a new phase. But, I wasn’t particularly on the lookout for any special behaviors, is what I’m saying.

“I ordered my pumpkin spice latte, because it’s fall… what are you going to do?”

Before we dive into this little tale, I will admit up front: my car was crooked. I want the record to show that I’m not denying that fact. I will suggest that the slight angle of my park job was probably the result of the person next to me being a shade helter-skelter, as we all know that the Starbucks parking lot is strange to navigate and those slots right in front of the window are shaped like funnels. I’m not making excuses—just rationalizing a bit: if the person next to me was crooked, in an attempt to safely park, I situated my vehicle accordingly.

I ordered my pumpkin spice latte, because it’s fall… what are you going to do? And due to personal preferences, I requested oat milk. The barista asked me a question, something I couldn’t make out, and after he repeated himself, I was sure he was asking me if I played the bass. Well, I was feeling great because bass players are cool, he must think I’m cool, he must think he’s seen me in the band, not knowing that, no, I’m just the lady who writes about them. He didn’t think that joke was funny, but you read my column! My sense of humor is under-appreciated.

“I said, ‘ARE. YOU. PLANT-BASED.’” I swallowed my chuckles and returned to reality. I am, I tell him, but I’m not super-strict about it. “Oh,” he says. “Well, I am that strict about it, and you should know that our pumpkin spice mix has skim milk in it.”

After I was seated with my PSL, ahem, I took out my pages and got to work editing. I sat there for a good long while, enjoying my non-non-dairy drink, sinking into the story I was working on, but something caused me to look up at a particular moment. Was it the Universe? Who’s to say. What matters is, I look up as a car is pulling in next to mine, and for a split second, I thought my Jeep had been struck. The front of that car was duct-taped together, so it felt like a very real possibility. I walked toward the window to check, and I was relieved to find that no damage was done.

However, there was about six inches between my driver’s side door and the passenger side of this vehicle. No matter! I watched the woman exit the car, so I knew who it belonged to. When she came inside and ordered her drink, I approached her with a smile.

I shall tell you verbatim what I said:

“Hi there! I don’t mean to bother you, but I wanted to catch you really quickly. It seems like you’re here to work, and before you settle in, I wanted to point out that I’m a little concerned about getting into my car. [I point out the window. She looks.] And, you see, in a while, I have to leave to get my kids for school, and I’d hate to interrupt you later when you’re in the middle of something.”

She stared at me. Annoyed and huffing, she pulled her keys from her bag. And then she said, “It looks like one of us is crooked.”

Now, people of the mountains, I’ve already told you as much. I didn’t mean to be crooked. I wasn’t disrespectfully and selfishly disrupting her day. I was crooked. And she was hugging the line between our two spots so closely that—and this is the logical part, so stay with me—even if she wanted me to go out there and fix my car, I wouldn’t have been able to get into it! So, there was no readjustment to be made until she scooted over.

“Regardless,” I said with a smile, “I do need to be able to get into my vehicle.”

Before she stormed outside, the man who’d been behind her in line made a joke at my expense. His wife said to him after the punchline, “Oh good. I was wondering if you were going to say something about that.”

And I returned to my seat, to my illicit, overpriced latte, and began charting the stars, because suddenly, proceeding cautiously by way of the planets’ paths seemed more reasonable than any terrestrial encounter I’d had that day. I guess it’s time to get astro-logical.