Recently a friend asked us what was the catalyst that sent us off on our sailboat adventures. He wanted to know, what was the series of events that led us down the path of being barely respectable, unemployed vagabonds. Could we narrow it down to a life changing moment? Yes we could and although I’ve never told the story, I’ve decided too now.
“What do you think this means?” Kirstyn asked me as we stood on the street corner in front of the Chinese restaurant we’d just had dinner at. She was holding the small slip of paper from her fortune cookie. I leaned in to look ‘take a step back’ is all it read. It didn’t even have lucky numbers on the back. “Very unusual” we both nodded in agreement. “Take a literal step back or a figurative step back?” I wondered out loud. There was nothing but sidewalk, buildings, all the stuff of an ordinary city street behind us. In front of us the little ‘do not walk’ Guy was lit up above the crosswalk but traffic was light and I’d been considering scurrying across between cars. “Should we try it?” Kirstyn suggested. I shrugged my shoulders and we both took a long deliberate step backward. As we arrived at our new space, a car that was probably going a little too fast came careening up onto the curb and slammed into the light pole we’d previously been standing beside. Debris scattered about our feet. We looked at each other and said nothing for a moment. “Did the cookie know?” Kirstyn asked. “Smart cookie” I mumble, “Maybe we should ask for another cookie” Kirstyn suggested. There was a crowd gathering by the car, and one of the onlookers was the young woman who’s the host in the restaurant. I showed her the slip of paper from the cookie. She stared at it for a moment, said something in Mandarin and then asked “did you?” “We were standing there.” I pointed to where the wrecked car sat, bystanders leaned in the drivers side, someone was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. “Could we have more cookies?” I asked the woman. “Come with me.” We followed her into the restaurant and through a door to the kitchen. She spoke briefly in mandarin to an old man who was cooking up a batch of breaded almond chicken. He listened, nodded, walked over to a shelf and picked up an ancient looking box. He walked over and handed the box to Kirstyn. He spoke in his native language and the woman translated “do not break open the cookies till the time is right. You will know when that is and the cookie will guide you.” “But how will I know?” Kirstyn asked the old cook. His eyes widened and his nostrils flared “You will know!” He said in English. We headed out of the restaurant and carefully crossed the accident scene and the street and slowly walked in the direction of our hotel. “What do you think?” Kirstyn asked me. “Very suspect, why didn’t he speak English sooner?” Kirstyn nodded, “I meant the cookies.” “Yeah, I mean, a lot of great Confucius like wisdom has come out of those cookies over the years, but can a cookie see the future?” I pondered, but Kirstyn was more convinced of the cookie power. “These cookies come from an ancient culture full of mysticism, I think I’m taking the old man’s advice.”
Months later, long enough that the cookie incident had become an anecdote, the sort of story you tell at parties. The box of cookies had been sitting untouched in a cupboard. It was a quiet night, we had ordered out for pizza and were fully engulfed in a Netflix binge. Kirstyn suddenly looked at me, eyes wide and nostrils flared, in a way that reminded me of the old Chinese man. “The time is right.” She whispered softly as she stood and walked to the cookie cupboard. That was when Kirstyn and Jerin’s adventures really began.