Thursday, November 13, 2003

A pleasure to dish

A couple of years ago, I bought myself a set of brown dinner plates. They weren't the greatest quality, but I became very fond of them. They represented a rare, graduate-school-era gift to myself. They also represented a new life, a better life post-Doug. These are the dishes that I shared with Sarah and, later, with Benedict.

Two of these dishes broke back in MN. Another had a deep crack in it, and I kept expecting it to split any day. But, no. It hung in there for over a year.

Yesterday afternoon, I decided I couldn't wait any longer for that dish to break. So I walked it out the back door and calmly smashed it on the driveway. It was cheap stoneware -- more like pottery than glass -- so it shattered and scattered with a crash so pleasing that I immediately wanted to hear it again.

I returned to the kitchen, picked up two more of the brown plates, and took them outside to meet the same fate as the first. (crash!) (crash!)

One more trip inside. (crash!) (shatter!) (crash!) A private finale. It was with something like grace that I hurled the last three plates to the pavement in quick succession.

I don't know why I did it, but I felt better afterwards. I felt as if I'd finally said something out loud -- if only to myself. And so it was with a sense of satisfaction rather than shame that I carefully swept up all the many brown chards and threw them in the garbage.

Adam then came back to the kitchen to ask what we were going to make for dinner. I told him that, whatever it was, we wouldn't be eating it on a brown plate. He looked surprised. "Oh, did that cracked plate finally bite the dust?"

I told him that, in fact, all the plates had "bit it." He took the news very well.

A better person might have given those plates to someone who needed them. We didn't need them, although we used them a lot. We have left now the formal china plates that were a wedding present. We have Adam's small collection of all-white plates. And we have his truly hideous set of seizure-inducing, burnt-orange plates, which he picked up at somebody's garage sale. (It didn't even occur to me to smash those, as they were never "mine" and because I've too often complained about how ugly they are.)

I think I smashed the brown plates because they represent a place that I miss. And, more to the point, that cracked plate represented a change that just wouldn't come.

Sometimes you have to make a change happen for yourself.


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