A New Fridge

This refrigerator I see is the first to belong to me. In my first kitchen of my first home, this fridge leans to the right, throwing the door back upon opening. But this is part of what makes the fridge mine.

In my first home, there is little to synthesize. What I mean is, my pre-existing possessions are few; most of what is in my home is new, at least to me. In the home of my parents, there are long-standing possessions numerous enough to fill each room, overflowing still into a room dedicated to storage. Here, I wouldn’t know what to do with a storage room, even if I did have one. It’s proven difficult to furnish spaces I have never been responsible for filling: a laundry room, linen closet, living room, and the kitchen. Now, in my house, I am surrounded by objects that stand for necessity; I bought the red dish towel because I needed one that night and it was the cheapest one, not because I particularly like red and not because my grandmother had one just like it. The furniture, acquired because houses need things like end tables, are foreign as well; taken for free, this furniture holds more memories for its previous owner than for me. I have no attachment to the beige kitchen table chairs, the adequately preserved sofa, or my full box spring.

And then there is the refrigerator.

Clean, large, and mostly void of food—especially the kind of food that makes even a refrigerator familiar. There is no apple butter from Bill’s harvest two years ago. There is no mystery sauce left undated and unopened since 07132011. There is no food that I don’t like—the kind of food kept for another person. If I don’t like mushrooms or ham or sauerkraut, I won’t open the door and see them stuffed on a shelf.

Then there’s my empty, white fridge door. I remember a few years ago, my mother sorted through the magnets I had seen on refrigerators since I was a child. We had accumulated too many and she was picking out the favorites and throwing away the rest. She kept my favorite seashell and death-by-chocolate magnets. The refrigerator that is mine has no magnets with catchy sayings. There are no clips or menus or pictures—just some Scotch tape holding this week’s schedule.

I think this means I will be entering into a new stage of gift buying. Soon, my friends will have homes too, void of history or sentiment. I will buy them magnets from trips for their refrigerators; I will learn to sew pillows for their couch; I will frame a mosaic of tiles from garage sales to hang in their bathroom. And in twenty years, maybe these will hold sentimental value as they are moved around new houses into new rooms. Time and place will make them sacred. And if nothing else, maybe they will become familiar to their children, not for being particularly good-looking, inspiring, or comfortable, but for being present.

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