It was the summer of 1995, and I had just graduated from a very stressful MFA program, which I did not like at all. My husband Damon and I decided to go to New York to live, and I was just barely surviving, as I had an autoimmune disorder from all the stress. That went away, as my husband tenderly cooked macrobiotically for me, and that did the trick. Anyway, I insisted on going to NYC three months ahead of him, and he capitulated. My goal was to find a job and an apartment for us, since I was a native New Yorker. It made sense to me at the time. I was staying alternately with friends in Manhattan and at my grandmother’s house in Brooklyn, when on my third day back I met a girl of about 15, who wanted to read my palm. I figured that she must need the money, so I let her, and I even gave her more money than she asked for. Afterwards, I went over to look at Kings Highway and the building where I grew up, and then on my way back to my grandmother’s, I met this same girl’s mother, who said, “Somebody’s putting evil work on you.” I felt at the time like I knew who it was (can’t say anything else about that, though). The girl’s mother said she wanted $20 to burn candles for me, and I gave it to her. Then I went to St. Brendan’s Church and got myself blessed by a priest–I had a bad feeling.
Throughout the next three months, I ran around all over New York with these Romanian Gypsies, buying everything from jewelry to gift certificates for Tavern on The Green, just so that they could remove this curse. Don’t get me wrong, by this time I was in an honest-to-God mania (my first of two before I was medicated), but I was having the time of my life. I didn’t tell a soul. Whenever I tried to tell my husband, his nose would bleed and I was frightened. (The Gypsies told me never to say a word to anyone or all our souls would be lost and great bodily harm would come to us.) Anyway, when I finally “came down,” and came to my senses, I told my husband everything with a friend of ours present. His nose didn’t bleed. We moved to Park Slope and never saw the Gypsies ever again. My credit was pretty much ruined. But hey, when you’re 25 and have designs on poetry, there are a lot worse things that can happen, and it definitely was an adventure of a lifetime.
—Noelle Kocot is the author of six collections of poetry including 4, The Raving Fortune, Soul in Space, and The Bigger World. A recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Academy of American Poets, her work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry in 2001, 2012, and 2013.