In such an extraordinary age of global information relay, it may not be an astonishing concept to understand that in some cultures marriage is not optional, it is a requirement. A girl and guy are allowed sometime after reaching puberty to study, work, save up money, maybe even allowed to live independently. But then, when that time is up, they are expected to settle down with a special someone. Kind of like when you order Chinese food and know that, without fail, you will find fortune cookies at the bottom of the bag. Does it matter if you ordered Kung Pao Beef or Shrimp Fried Rice? Absolutely not. The actual order or quantity of items paid for are not directly correlated to the presence of those golden, butterfly-shaped goodies. After a couple orders, the thought of the cookies at the bottom of the bag is comforting, wouldn’t you agree? It isn’t a surprise when we feel consolation inconsistency. I expected marriage too, after hearing about its dire need in a woman’s life for most of my life. I convinced myself it was the most practical next step. The expectation turned into reality sooner rather than later for me and before I knew it, and knew myself, I eagerly removed the cookie from its plastic wrapper.
The first bite of that cookie is spectacular. An incredibly satisfying, mmm moment. I immediately tasted vanilla and found it to be extremely pleasant. The potent need to be loved is a very real phenomenon and so finding someone who I thought wanted to share my life felt incredible. Taking the time to decipher all the ingredients is a beautiful stage. Getting to know how we work together and reckoning the correct measures of inputs to create a safe space was actually a fun stage. A fleeting fun stage that is. It didn’t take too long to figure out the delectable cookie crisp consisted of flour, sugar, vanilla, and oil. Something else was needed to keep interest in one’s cookie. Ahhh yes!! The element of surprise- the actual ‘fortune.’ Chancing upon random aphorisms enhanced the implication of mystery. We needed this. We needed to feel like there could be more than a list of ingredients to entice the senses. The enticement was eerily temporary and this was confusing. I began to question my dependence on the vague aphorism. Why was it even needed in order to enjoy the cookie? The, more often than not, irrelevant collection of words and numbers printed on a very tiny sheet of paper seemed silly. The ‘fortune’ part was something I was not looking forward to any longer. I wanted to depend solely on the cookie. After all, the crunchy dessert would not exist without its essential ingredients. Paper and ink were merely added distractions. I deliriously needed the actual cookie to be enough to satisfy my taste buds.
Sometime later, there came a point where my palette picked up on a slight staleness. This was first noticed in the aftertaste after cookie was munched and consumed. Shortly after this newfound nuisance, I began to detest the zestless flavor altogether. Consuming the product took longer and longer. The actual knowledge of it being in the bag was discomforting. Consistency provided no consolation at this point. Expected behavior and predicted results produced an itch that spread over my entire body. Unfriendly familiarity was hard and tasteless. It was hard to say whether the cookie was to blame or my taste buds. It’s plausible both were to blame. Maybe my crispy, crunchy, cookie dessert phase was over, after all after a decade, when a girl turns into a woman her needs also change. I now needed a soft, smooth, tangy confection. When the other person does not understand want to acknowledge growth and personality shift, there is conflict. The accusation ordeal was a complete time waster and proved to navigate us further from the reality of our situation. Uninvited fears and suffocating confusion led us to conform to consistency. Conformity was the worst decision we made as the crumbs scattered every which way. We stepped on those crumbs as we sleepwalked through our lives. Some days we quarreled over whose turn it was to sweep, but after a while, it was easier to ignore the existence of the ubiquitous crumby mess.
A moment of truth followed the cycle of obliviousness. It was simple, yet took so long to declare. The once relied-upon solace of fortune cookie in the bag was an unnecessary annoyance. Their mere presence caused anxiety. My hand trembled as I reached down searching for packets of sweet and sour sauce, my fingers fearful of brushing up against the plastic wrapper, a wrapper I was once so eager to tear into. The anxiety was all-encompassing, so much so that I was unable to enjoy the Chicken Spring rolls and Shrimp Chow Mein. It was tragic how one thing, marriage, could suck the life out of everything I once used to delight in with such ease, the self. I knew what had to be done to resurrect the joys of indulgence. It was a decision most did not agree with and many failed to understand but it was clarifying to me. When the time came to order Chinese food I asked them, in a firm yet polite manner, to hold the fortune cookie, it was no longer coveted.