It’s two in the morning, I can’t sleep, and I’m tired of assuaging my progressively wayward thoughts with futile arguments.
Stumbling out of bed, I grab my empty water glass off the nightstand, and head towards the kitchen, noting how my footsteps echo down the quiet hall.
Scanning the floor for our undetectable black dog, he’s no where in sight, Shaggy would sleep right through a home invasion, but that’s not why we have a dog. He keeps us.
Executing the turns by memory, I enter the softly illuminated kitchen, winking at the crescent moon peeking through the window over the sink.
For some reason I’m compelled to touch the solid panels of our majestic refrigerator, knowing I will not get a response, it’s more of a tap, tap, how you doing, kind of thing. I hear her motor purring as if she’s alive, but I resist the urge to converse, seems curious even in the middle of the night.
Pressing my glass to the convenient exterior lever, filtered water slowly fills the vessel, it’s cool and quenching.
My eye lands on a bowl of leftover candy from Halloween sitting on her dusty surface, snuggled up to a potted plant, in the dark it looks like a Carmen Miranda hat, only decorated with bite size chocolates. Reaching up I grab a Milky Way, strip off the wrapper, slipping the entire piece into my mouth.
I’m just passing through, heading right back to bed, before I become fully awake.
But then something catches my eye, halting my progress, and I have to stop to give it my full attention. Adjusting the magnets on the side of the refrigerator, as if they were precious jewels, I lean in, focusing my eyes (minus my glasses) on a rare work of art.
The piece that catches my eye is an abstract portrait, Crayola type, a Cora Jensen original, not a lot of refinement, sort of like me.
My Mom always had a fridge-worthy article taped at eye level but the interesting thing was they were only of interest to her? I remember one on the viability of vitamins, the value of regular water consumption (which seems self-evident), and the zinger was an article about managing menopause! Hello, now I wish I had eyes on that one.
It’s as if some powerful force causes certain items to be attracted to refrigerators?
Demetri Martin warns never to be less interesting than your refrigerator magnets. Really, he just turned 46, what the hell does he know?
Running my hand across a variety of painted plastic frames, stuffed with pictures of my kids, now living all over the globe. These frames were part of my Mom’s estate, I painted them during a creative period, once kept on her refrigerator, now relocated to mine. They seem awkward, out of place.
The thing to remember Barbara Holland reminds us is that children are temporary, as soon as they develop a sense of humor and get to be good company, maybe even remember to take the trash out and close the refrigerator door, they pack up their electronic equipment and their clothes, and some of your clothes, and leave in a U-Haul, to return only at Thanksgiving.
I look at her sturdy edges now smudged with fingerprints, knowing there hasn’t been a time when she hasn’t served this family with incredible loyalty, the Queen’s Guard, a vital presence, yet she’s not allowed to move.
It’s as if she’s invisible, like menopausal women, we’ve got a lot of life left in us, but it’s difficult to see beyond our aging exterior.
Swinging open her french doors, I browse the inventory, reaching in with my fingers to sample a cold ravioli, she gallantly lights my way. Without getting too sappy, she is the center of our home, on the inside her contents are essential to life, on the outside she holds the household together, something I’ve never been able to do.
I think I love her, it’s two in the morning, I’m weary, go easy.
Standing in the kitchen, in the middle of the night, I’m thrown back in time, was it twenty-some years ago, when I was making my way through a dark house, desperately searching her shelves for milk, with a screaming baby on my hip, then laughing because I found my reading glasses resting on the butter dish? Another time one of the kids had a fever, and I came running for a Popsicle but grabbed two so I could climb in bed, and by sheer presence drive that nasty bug away. Recently I remember reaching into her cavernous shelves for some leftover wine on an unseasonably warm night. She always has what I need.
I call that grace.
The house is so quiet, I note how the contents of our refrigerator has changed over the years, less bread, more fruit, eggs, salad fixings. There’s a Gatorade stashed in the back, Dante must have forgotten, and some sriracha sauce from Kelley’s last visit. I keep a few chocolate milks and yogurts for my granddaughters in the bottom drawer. As Thomas Fuller notes, leftovers in their less visible form are called memories, stored in the refrigerator of the mind, and the cupboard of the heart.
For unknown reasons I start singing, “Dancing in the dark, in the middle of the night,” but I can’t remember the words, so I hum a few bars, reaching in for another ravioli.
I resist her offer for thirds, she’s generous, and that’s always been her danger.
Closing the french doors with more reverence than necessary, I lean against her armored chest, life is moving so fast, we’ll have to replace her soon, she’s seriously outdated, and for some reason, this makes me enormously sad.
I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, we’ll clean out the fridge.
- All Italians got a refrigerator in the garage. That’s what we do. Buddy Valastro
- If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all. Joey Adams
- My son would walk to the refrigerator-freezer and fling both doors open and stand there until the hairs in his nose iced up. After surveying $200 worth of food in varying shapes and forms, he would declare loudly, ‘There’s nothing to eat!’