Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Deborah Chan: Embracing life’s random fortunes

Fortune cookies are fun.

They’re like Forrest Gump’s box of choc’lits – you never know what you’ll get.

Of course, given their usually upbeat nature, there are certain fortunes you’ll never get. Such as, “You will enjoy your meal here and be violently ill tomorrow.”

I pointed this out to a favorite server recently as she handed Richard and me our cookies. “No,” she laughed. “We certainly don’t want that one!”

We’ve received quite a few fortunes over the years. Although not a believer in fortune-telling or horoscopes, I sometimes save the more interesting predictions just to see what happens.

Given the randomness and generality of these fortunes, I’m always fascinated when I receive ones that are either true or have come true in surprising ways.

Two of my favorites read, “You have an active mind and a keen imagination. Apply your ideas,” and “You have a charming way with words. Tomorrow write a letter.” Wow. That’s serious juju. These two certainly fit me as a writer and creative, although complete burnout from breast cancer treatment and subsequent writer’s block prompted a long column-writing break. And it’s good to be back.

Recently, I came across a couple fortunes I’d squirreled away and forgotten.

In 2004, my fortune read, “Soon someone new coming into your life will become a very good friend.” I was dumbfounded because this had come absolutely true. When we first moved to Spokane Valley, we became friends with Jim and Nancy Anderson and their daughters Amy and Leanne, then 7 and 5.

A few years later the Andersons moved to Seattle and meetings were rare. Not long after receiving and forgetting this fortune, Leanne, now in her early 20s, visited me while staying with family in Coeur d’Alene. That visit brought forth a new and wonderful adult friendship that Richard, Leanne and I treasure; she’s become like a daughter to us.

Another old fortune said, “You will see many lands and in the process learn more about life.” Well, that’s continually fulfilled in a diagonal sort of way. Regrettably, I haven’t been many places. But over the course of my life, armchair traveling through thousands of books has exposed me to many lands, epochs and peoples, broadening my horizons. And I don’t have to pay airfare or eat weird foreign food.

Two months ago my fortune read, “Be adventuresome and try a new look.” I practically spewed my green tea in a burst of laughter. In the past year of cancer treatment, I’ve progressed from being a straight-haired brunette to being bald, lashless and browless, wearing a dark blond wig, sprouting curly gray hair. And to top it off, after lunch that day I was to pick up new glasses. Richard jokes that he never knows who he’s coming home to or who to look for when we split up when out and about. I could use a breather from “new looks.”

In late September, I learned that “You will soon be going on a fun road trip with friends or family.” Well, yes, but it certainly wasn’t the road trip I hoped for.

Last month I was jostled on a narrow, crowded stairway, came down badly on an ankle and fell down several steps, bumping body parts – hard – all the way. My “fun road trip with family” (Richard) had me strapped in a neck cradle on a backboard, carried by my four new EMT “friends” out to an ambulance, and over the exceedingly bumpy streets of Spokane to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Amazingly, nothing was broken; I came home with painful soft tissue injuries, goose eggs on my head and a casted sprained ankle.

That event made me wish one more fortune would come true: “Pleasures await you by the seashore.” Yeah, I’d be totally up for that.

It would be a very welcome addition to my fortunate life.

Click here to comment on this story »