FootNotes In Time

~ What Is This? ~

It began at Applebee's, of all unlikely places to have your life changed forever.

In 1999 I was still brand-new to the Bay Area in general, and to Alameda in particular. One evening, my then-boyfriend /now-husband David and I decided to drive across the island and have dinner at the South Shore Applebee's.  It was a Friday night, at the peak of the dinner rush, and we were looking at a 30-minute wait to be seated. Fine by us: we were still at that icky-gooey stage of our relationship, when even standing around waiting for a dinner table was "fun."  (Come to think of it, we still are.)  As we waited, we amused ourselves by wandering around the restaurant lobby, checking out the assortment of "memorabilia" hanging from the walls.  Most of it was standard-issue Applebee's crap  -- faux sports "memorabilia," faux music "memorabilia," faux military "memorabilia" from the nearby Navy Base   --  but there were also a number of framed photos of the area, taken throughout the past hundred years or so.  At that point I was already falling in love with my adopted hometown  ... the palm trees, the beautiful beaches, the stately Victorians  ... and I found the photographs of 19th and early-20th century Alameda extremely compelling.

One photo in particular, however, got my attention like no other.

It was a photo of Neptune Beach, a popular Alameda resort and amusement park in the early 1900s.  Although the amusement park (and the beach, actually) are long gone, the little apartment David and I are living in now is only a few blocks from the original site.  As I looked at the photo  --  a crowd scene taken during the summer of 1917, according to the plaque beneath the frame  --  I noticed a girl standing off to one side of the crowd, alone.  Her back is to the camera, but her face is turned slightly to one side, revealing the slightest view of profile.  Her hair falls in one long braid down the back of her old-fashioned bathing costume, and she clasps her hands in front of her.  Even in a still photograph, there is an animated quality to her   ... a liveliness of spirit, an almost palpable impatience.  It's as though she's waiting for a friend who is late to their swim date.      

As I looked at the woman in the photograph, I suddenly heard a small voice in my head. "That's you!" it whispered. "YOU were once that girl."

I was once this girl.

(click to see enlarged version)

I brushed it aside.  That's just hunger talking, I told myself.  The idea that I may have lived a life prior to this one was simply too weird, too fanciful  -- too contrary to everything I'd ever been taught  --  to be believed.

Over the next few years, David and I went to Applebee's maybe once every two or three months. Each time, I made a beeline for the Neptune Beach photo. As I studied it, I realized that something odd was happening: I was beginning to recognize some of the people in the photo. I saw a woman wearing the same bathing costume that *I* had once purchased (and felt a tickle of residual resentment over her impudence). I recognized an older gentleman who had once given me piano lessons in a chilly church basement. I saw my second cousin twice-removed, who would die tragically at age 23 from an allergic reaction to a bee sting.  I could point out the location of the public water closet, the ice vendor, the changing rooms  ...  none of which were identified in the photo. In short: I was beginning to believe that I may have actually been the girl in that photo.  

I was also beginning to believe that I might be losing my mind. 

During the summer of 2005, I found myself Unexpectedly and Unfortunately Unemployed  -- a long story, already familiar to long-time *FootNotes* readers  -- while simultaneously in the throes of a profound change-of-life depression.  For three months I lay in bed with my laptop, stoned on Ativan and Paxil, idly surfing the web.  One afternoon, while searching for "Neptune Beach" and "past lives"  --  yet another attempt to place myself in the Applebee's photo  --   I stumbled across a local message board for people who believed they had lived past lives specific to the Bay Area.  The board was maintained and hosted by a woman named Patricia Rankin.  Patricia (known as "Fleeta" to her online friends and acquaintances) claimed that she had taught herself to locate and identify previous incarnations. Furthermore, she claimed that she was able to do the same for others.  I e-mailed her that very afternoon, telling her about my fascination with the Applebee's photo and my suspicion that I may have lived in Alameda in a previous life.

Fleeta answered my e-mail immediately.  "I think I can help you," she said.

We began a lively e-mail back-and-forth, focusing primarily on the topics of past lives and local history. By the end of the summer we had progressed to phone conversations, then to a face-to-face coffee meeting at Noah's Bagels. She introduced me to the concept of "reactualizing"  ...  a technique that uses a combination of self-hypnosis, antihistamines and Internet research to uncover previous incarnations, or "actualizations."  Using this technique, she had managed to reactualize over seventy of her own previous incarnations (and hundreds more for other people). She told me that three things made me uniquely qualified for reactualization:  

1.) I had been successfully hypnotized in the past.

2.) I have flexible religious beliefs.

3.) I am a lifelong diarist/journaler.  

People who obsessively document and archive their lives, she said, will reactualize with greater ease than those who don't. "It's all about levels of self-awareness," she explained.

(For once, I was actually GLAD to be embarrassingly self-absorbed.)

Even so, I was initially skeptical.  How could this possibly work?  Her encouragement  -- plus the fact that she DIDN'T ask for a major credit card  -- finally convinced me that it was worth a shot. Our first session took place in mid-October 2005, in her private studio in Piedmont. Unfortunately, the first time wasn't a success. I was weaning myself from the antidepressants at that point, a brutal physical process not unlike my withdrawal from drugs and alcohol years earlier, and I found it difficult to relax and concentrate.  I was disappointed, but Fleeta encouraged me to try again. "Lots of preincarnates don't reactualize the first time they try," she said. I agreed to another session, and on October 27, 2005 I experienced my first successful reactualization as Nahknet, a young woman who lived and died in Egypt during the fourth century BC.  In subsequent sessions, four more precarnations reactualized themselves, roughly one per month  ...  including the woman in the Applebee's photo.

As my success rate with reactualization grew  --  as well as my friendship with Fleeta  --  the two of us began to toy with the idea of jointly building a website to promote Past Life Reactualization. "Why don't we use *FootNotes*?" I suggested. I obviously wasn't planning to continue journaling on this site.  Why not use the bandwidth (and the ready-made audience) to get our message across? She agreed that this was the perfect course of action.  

And thus "FootNotes In Time" was born.

At this moment it is still very much a work in progress. Presented here are thumbnail sketches of my first five verified reactualizations to date, with more (hopefully) to follow as I continue my sessions.  Eventually we would like to include more detailed information about the Reactualization Process, as well as a message board for those who have successfully undergone the process and a FAQ page for those interested in trying it for themselves.  We are both extremely excited about this project, and although there isn't a lot here just yet, we look forward to someday having the most comprehensive reactualization website on the Internet.

I understand that not all of my readers will feel inclined to join me on this journey. To them I say farewell, and thank you for supporting *FootNotes* for so many years.  

To the rest of you I say: prepare for the most amazing experience of your lives.

Let the reactualization begin! 

and Fleeta


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~ in life, hope: in memory, truth ~