For nearly sixteen years, we have eaten at least monthly, and often weekly, at the Mandarin Cafe. It is one of only a couple of Chinese restaurants in this city that are not primarily buffet restaurants; and, while busy, it is usually pretty quiet.
We went there last New Year’s Eve, and, while my wife was chatting with the owner/operator and his wife, I spoke for a few minutes with a waitress / hostess there who painted the mural you might be able to make out in the picture above, and who I have written about elsewhere. I was paying the bill.
“Why didn’t you open your fortune cookie?” she asked, having just come from our table. She then handed it to me.
While the ancient credit card machine was processing my card, I cracked open the cookie and read:
“Water will break a stone that fire only strengthens.”
Interesting. I pocketed it.
You know, for someone who is supposed to have his life together, I sure as hell don’t.
I’ve carried my share of heartaches the last few years, but none greater than those associated with my 22-year-old son. Failed out college, fired from jobs, in and out of drug & alcohol rehab. He struggles with a number of mental health issues, and has gender dysphasia.
Halfway through 2016, he got a job at a convenience store, but was very unhappy. He lived alone in a tiny apartment we were paying for while he got on his feet. He had been unemployed, living in that same apartment, for 18 months.
I never raged or stormed at him, for I knew, or felt I knew, that I had, in some measure, done this to him.
My heart ached, constantly.
Around April he quit his job, saying he was going to live in Tennessee with some transgendered friends. He found work, and sounds so much happier now.
Sometimes tears see us through what anger cannot.
For water will break a stone that fire will only strengthen.
642 Tiny Things to Write About (c) 2014 by Chronicle Books
“Write last year’s fortune cookie. It got everything right.”