Cupboard my Childhood

I grabbed for all the childhood I could.

We have a black fridge at home, but the kitchen’s palette is a mix of tan and copper. So, as soon as the fridge was installed, wooden panels that matched the cupboards were put over the doors, leaving only the black of the handles and water dispenser. Young, I was stunned. Every house I had ever visited had a fridge covered in magnets, pictures, words, and the objets d’art that the children of the homes produced in quantities whose only precedents were Soviets under five-year-plans and Egyptians under Moses.

I saw these panels as an attack. What did this mean for my childhood? I thought. My mother already gave me very little cookie dough due to something called “sow Manila,” which confused me since I didn’t see a connection between hogs and the Philippines. Besides cookie dough, other parts of my childhood were missing, too. I didn’t have a sister whose locks I could pull or whose dolls I could hatchet. I didn’t live in a neighborhood with boys I could play war or catch with. I lived in the woods down a driveway off a street away from town. So I grabbed for all the childhood I could, and I wanted those magnetized doors.

Now, I realize that the fridge fits the style of the kitchen. It’s classy, and now I don’t create things that could be put on it. Retail magnets can’t hold up the papers I write. My sketches are confined to a notebook. My pictures are digital. Yet still, when I go over to friends’ houses and see their fridges covered in memories—some even of my own cherubic face—I stop to look at the images of memories that others display, since ours reside in folders, binders, and boxes.

Photo credit: Victor Wallenkampf


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