She offered me a tissue after I finished sobbing in her living room. I accepted and wiped the shameful tears from my face, for my tears will always be a sign of weakness to me. When I had calmed down enough after telling her all about Anubis’s abandonment, she was quiet for a few moments, letting me sit and shift uncomfortably, unsure of what she would say.
Slowly, my spiritual advisor began to speak.
“It seems to me,” she told me “that you are beginning some sort of quest.”
Growing up, I was an avid fan of epic fantasy. I would swing sticks in my backyard as a sword against imaginary dragons and foes; for years I have worked on an epic fantasy tale of my own. But those feelings of grandeur, of adventure, were always fictional. Quests were something to be confined to the pages of a book or on a television screen. They weren’t something we did today, in the modern age.
So when she told me I had the makings of a quest ahead of me, I balked. Quests were for characters in a tale, not a college student about to take finals. Life is not a fantasy novel, I told myself, though I desperately wished she were right. We talked for awhile longer, I felt a little better when I left, and the word “quest” echoed in my mind for the next two years.
Quest is a word with a lot of expectations. It brings up images of knights and dragons, lost treasures and enchanted swords to the mind of any fantasy reader. These are things we presume extinct and obsolete, and so too the quest. It’s something that the Knights of the Round Table took part in, not an English Literature student who read about them hundreds of years later. It was silly to think about and I refused to entertain notions of quests and magic swords in our modern world. But that didn’t mean they didn’t entertain the idea of me.
The more time that has passed, the more I feel the reluctant hero being pressed into the mold of a fantasy character. As the days and months pass and my experiences and signs show me one way, I find myself skeptical of my own skepticism – yet still doubting how I can honestly entertain this idea and still maintain that I am sane, of sorts. But as I lay down the cards that cold January morning, I scoffed in disbelief.
“No, that can’t possibly be right,” I told myself as I read the third and final challenge card, the final trial I had to beat to accomplish whatever it was I was “not ready” for in previous years. Nothing was coming to me but for the image of the large, verdant dragon on the Ten of Pentacles.
Where do you even find a dragon in Virginia?