I travel with a set of chopsticks. They somehow match my ten year old metal mug also from China. They are my instant noodle tools for the train and a reminder of long ago happy adventures.
I get a bit of attention on Russian trains with them though – “from China?”, “Can you use them?”, “Huh?”.
I also get a bit of attention being a solo, unmarried, childless, 42 year old. Attention and often (mainly from Central Asian commuters – i.e. people from the ‘Stans’) genuine pity and earnest encouragement.
An Uzbeki lady, breastfeeding her son, looks deep into my eyes with heartfelt sadness, “You are still young – you can still have a baby! You ‘need’ to have a baby!” Explaining that I am ‘free’ and that I quite like it doesn’t often help.
Marriage proposals occasionally arise (amongst others!).
Sometimes one chopstick goes walkabout in my bag, maybe lost. I am forced to contemplate the value or status of the other lone chopstick.
Does one chopstick have worth without the other? If one was lost, would I keep its “other half”? If one chopstick ‘chops’ but is not met by the other, is it fulfilled? How vulnerable yet determined that one chopstick seems!
In many countries and cultures, it is the natural and imperative thing to do – find a lifelong mate and procreate. Not to do so is seen as incredibly sad. A life’s purpose unfulfilled.
Yet I know so many people who haven’t or can’t or won’t … or did but couldn’t…whether they wanted to or not.This now seems equally natural in our world.
There are pros and cons to both of course. I have no answers.
But one lone chopstick? Just saying.