all of the selves we Have ever been
I have a few screws loose.
I know what you are thinking, but I am not talking about my head.
I am speaking about my pots and pans--a set of stainless steel Farberware that I received as a gift when I first set up housekeeping more than 40 years ago. With the help of some Bar Keeper’s Friend Cleanser, the collection still sparkles like new. Lately, about every two or three weeks, I tighten the screws that join the handles to the pots and pans, but within a few days, subtle wiggles return.
I am having trouble accepting this change in condition. These pots and pans have been with me most of my adult life. Every meal ever served in my home has come from inside these familiar vessels. The dutch oven has also served as a health aid at bedside when a stomach was upset. It has been a dish pan, a step stool for tiny feet, a helmet, and a container for Legos. Each pot has taken its turn as a musical instrument and a sorting bin. All have left the kitchen to come and go from the magical world of make believe. These kitchen tools have conjured up cleaning potions, medicinal tonics and Kool-Aid scented play dough.
We are a team my pots and me. We have our systems down. Without a measure, the smallest pot and I can fill a favorite tea cup to the brim without a drop of overflow. I know just how long the searing meat can sizzle in the skillet before the roast begins to stick. The bend in the bottom of the largest pot guides my pour of oil as I prepare to make the crunchiest popcorn.
We’ve been together a long time. These containers have outlasted countless apartments and two houses. They are well-traveled, moving in state and out. My pots and pans proved sturdier than a marriage, and more reliable than a Rolex. They helped me to feed and rear two children, sharing my memories of warming baby bottles and pancake breakfasts on sleep-over mornings. As one, we have simmered spaghetti sauce and soup to help fill stomachs in households where sorrow has been.
In the digital age, we have grown accustomed to constant updates. We no longer expect our things to last. We buy pre-fab furniture and leave it at the curb when we move. Fancy refrigerators and cars that talk to us last just a couple of years before they break down, require an update, or need a part so expensive that we might as well replace them.
I am a child of the mechanical age growing up in a household where a washing machine or a television might need a repair, but it lasted a lifetime. Families accumulated fine things not so much by shopping, but by handing down treasured heirlooms to the next generation. There is no bread machine that can replace the carved wooden bowl in which my grandmother kneaded the dough that became her signature raisin bread. There is no fine cabinetry that can replace the worn butcher block on which my grandfather cut meat in a small grocery store that helped feed a community during the Great Depression.
I love things that last--familiar things that share my memories and tell a story. Perhaps I will lose my mind on that day when the screws finally fall from the handles of my old pots and pans.