Friday, March 23, 2007


[posted by Callimachus]

When I remember my grandmother's kitchen, I still see the old refrigerator: rounded like a cream-colored cast-iron bank-safe, deep and delicious. From, what? The twenties? I sometimes forget they didn't have it till the end. It died, eventually, and they made a big production of a trip to Sears on a Saturday night to buy a new one. Probably only because the son of the man who sold them the original fridge worked there, as a department manager, but he had only the faintest idea who these three old ladies were.

The new one was sharp, chrome and plastic, but solid, expensive, and modern. It was not the old one, no, not at all. When that old reliable appliance died, it was a sign that things could live too long, and soon two sisters died and the third went into the home just when I was buying my first house, which is how the new refrigerator came to me.

That memory returns sixteen years later. I'm looking at the refrigerator in its naked and rusty age. Stripped of magnets and clippings, but stained with their outlines. Tomorrow the delivery crew will wheel the new fridge in, and cart the old one out. You can live for years with a thing and not see the thing, but I guess that's easy when it's papered over with gew-gaws and art projects and souvenier post cards. Today, there's nothing to see but the appliance, and its surface still holds enough shine to show back a faint ghost of myself.

Unloved in both its homes: In the first because it was new, in the second because it was old. I'll have to unhinge the kitchen door to fit it out, as we had to do when we moved into this house. That was with my first wife and a gang of friends I don't have anymore.