I crack the little golden-brown bearer of knowledge in half, unravel the small white paper, and anxiously await a bit of wisdom to be revealed.
I’m not the most superstitious of people. I’ve never been concerned with black cats or the condition of my mother’s back due to my walking on cracks in the sidewalk. I’ve read a few horoscopes, specifically when I was twelve. Looking to the stars to tell me what nail polish color to wear that month, I would cross my fingers as I read the pre-teen bible, Teen Vogue, that it would finally be my turn to wear pink. Maroon again, bummer. Scorpios were always gypped.
My only recent exception to this general thought that superstition is a waste of time comes tucked away with my occasional Chinese takeout. There’s something incredibly satisfying about breaking open a perfectly crunchy little cookie and gaining a piece of your (alleged) future. It’s quite disappointing whenever you receive a fortune that is Chinese food related like, “Your future looks delicious. Try the chow mein.” Or when you excitedly break open the cookie to find an annoying proverbial aphorism; “If you want the rainbow, you must to put up with the rain.”
I’m familiar with rain, the literal and figurative kinds. My days haven’t been particularly bombarded with tragedy though. The world of creativity appears to be a competition for who has been unfortunately lucky enough, contradiction aside, to be inundated with catastrophe. One cup of pain, a tablespoon of “death of a loved one,” two pints of sadness, a teaspoon of “bad breakup,” and a dash of undesired solidarity and you have the ideal recipe for inspiration.
My opportunity for inspiration was something I’ve waited and hoped would come (literally) crashing in for most of my young life. I drive across bridges and imagine what it would be like to suddenly throw my wheel to the right and live to call it an accident. I imagine living through natural disasters or being diagnosed with incurable diseases. I don’t necessarily wish these things upon myself, just the inspiration that comes from adversity to write something valuable, compose a masterpiece, or create a lasting work of art.
“Mr. Chopsticks, what can I get ‘cha?” I hear on the other line, as I turn left onto Elm. I respond with my usual order and simultaneously fumble to turn on my windshield wipers. I think about my father shouting, “No distractions!” as I hurried out the door as a newly license-holding teen. He would not be proud of this particular moment. “And can I get your name?” the voice asks. I respond with a nonchalant, “it’s Jenny,” and the phone call ends after a few typical exchanges.
I carry the brown paper bag bearing a pair of chopsticks and two containers releasing the enticing scent of soy sauce up three flights of stairs to my little apartment. I’m content to eat in silence as I tear open a small clear package, toss the crunchy cookie to the side, and meet Inspiration. Inspiration looks me in the eye, shakes my hand, and says two words to me.