by industriousants


*Apologies for the half written blog post I published by accident before this one. A too quick slip of the finger. Here’s the refined version of what you might have already seen.

I’ve broken another glass. Just seconds ago. This time it was a small wine glass being used as a make-shift vase on my window sill with little basil clippings floating inside. Those bright green leaves looked so pretty contained in its curvy water filled form and made our rough hewn apartment seem ever so glamorous when the south facing light hit it just so. I’m not surprised that somehow i’ve managed to snap the stem clean off the thing. It was for similar reasons that growing up mom used to call me Calamity Jane and stashed all her fine china away in a bulky display case away from my klutzy plate-breaking fingers. One less thing to pack. The only thought that came to mind as I threw the fragments into my recycle bin and then replaced it with my very-likely next victim, a less than classy goblet with frosty print marking the anniversary of some place i’ve never been. Blodgette’s, 1848-1998, 150 years. This one will be a guaranteed guilt-free break if it ever comes to that.

At the moment it eludes me why I own this tacky replacement vase/glass. I must have fished it out from some curbside take-me box the first time we lived in town years before, packed and stored at the cabin, unpacked and re-shelved after we moved back. We were desperate then. Even more so than now. I remember our first apartment, which was essentially the living and dining room of a huge chopped-up turn of the century house that had seen many better days. The only thing separating us from the guy who lived in the back of the house was a door at the rear of our unit. It was locked on our side, but we later found out that it could be easily opened from his. Thankfully, he was nice and liked cats so we trusted him. Also, we really didn’t have much to steal.  The guy upstairs was a different kettle entirely. Clean cut and smooth talking, he owned a small covey of road bikes, riding a different one to work every day. He had a bad habit of throwing parties where all his guests happened to be women in high heels with a cocaine like party-stamina that lasted well into the early morning. His go-to girlfriend was, intimately speaking, very vocal. Or maybe he was just that good, but I find it a little hard to believe.

Our first few nights in that ancient house we slept on the floor and used our camping air mattresses with Matt’s souvenir Afghan rug tucked under those to avoid puncturing them with all the random nails that poked out of the aging floorboards. The bed we eventually inherited from my in-laws, their marriage bed to be exact, was for a long time the only significant piece of furniture we owned. We developed a keen eye for garage sales and forgotten roadside furniture. I learned quickly that America really was the land of the free, because if you waited long enough someone would throw away just what you needed, in perfectly good condition. That, or give it to second hand store. So it’s no surprise that our quality of life greatly improved when I started volunteering at a local thrift shop which afforded us first pick at a good selection of pyrex, winter gear and eventually the cottage chic kitchen table that I’m writing on right now.

My kitchen cupboard today is just as occupied as it was then with  random items, assembled from here and there, some more loved than others; a beautiful but chipped robin’s egg blue cereal bowl from the thrift shop, 3 gold trimmed dining plates from Matt’s grandmother, a Chinese tea set from the woman upstairs who moved out the week we moved in, a creamy ceramic Ikea glass scrounged from a box of randoms at a garage sale, and the obvious pair of mustard yellow mugs with bright red apples on their sides that I only really wanted for the Made In West Germany script printed along the bottom. There are a few like these, but not many. I try to keep it bare bones in the kitchen because that’s my favorite room in every place i’ve ever lived and the more I have now the more I know I’ll need to leave behind later. And, as a dear globe trotting friend of mine said to me today as we talked about her life downsized as she prepares to move half-way around the world yet again, it never get easier. It’s like all those books you boxed from college, the signed art book by your professor, the classics you fingered for the first time, the ones that made you feel feelings while reading, stored in dampening cardboard in your parents basement, opened up years later after marriage and kids with an intention to purge, only to start flipping through them, remembering/reminiscing, stacking them around yourself sitting on the basement floor before quickly boxing them up again and shoving them even further back behind the winter coats and Christmas decorations. It’s hard to let go of something you so authentically loved. Well, my broken glass has started me thinking more about what I already think about too much. What of these temporal objects do I truly love? Here in my little kitchen, my favorite room in this apartment, either by choice or calamity i’ve already started weeding out the ones that won’t be coming with us, and searching out the right box for the things I know we’ll carry forward.