It’s halftime on the Superbowl. Tim and I opted to stay in instead of going to a friend’s, because I have to get up early tomorrow. The Who are singing “Whoooo are you (who, who/ who, who).” Tim is tending the fire in our fireplace and my cell phone starts ringing on my desk. “Oh, my phone’s ringing,” I say. I walk over to check it but I never get to, because right at that moment there is a horrific crash from the kitchen. A brief pause. Then the crash continues… it rolls and rolls for what seems like twenty or thirty seconds, at an incredible volume and with all the characteristics of utter destruction.
When it stops, we run to the kitchen. Broken, shattered dishes are everywhere. One of the particle-board shelves in the cabinet has collapsed (in the wreckage we find a snapped plastic bracket), and there are shards and slivers and massive hunks of ceramic everywhere.
I could not believe it. I know it’s just dishes, and accidents are accidents, but I could not believe I was looking at the broken remnants of sixteen bowls and dishes. All sorts of things went through my head: My bridal shower and wedding, where we received the tableware (most of what we own, really!). All the meals I’ve prepared and served on those plates. Dinners with friends. Haiti—One of my first clear thoughts was, What if this happened to your whole house, and not just one shelf? Anger at our landlords for installing cheap shelves, anger that we don’t own a home and feel so at the mercy of whatever this old rental throws at us…literally…
And finally just the reassuring fact that it’s only dishes. Sentimental dishes, maybe, but replaceable, nonessential. Two minutes before the shelf broke, I’d been standing right in front of it, setting out the pink dessert you can see in one of the pictures. Two minutes’ difference and I’d have taken the avalanche off my face!
Although last night I was fairly unhinged about the whole event, this morning I felt much calmer about the crash, the injustice, the sentimentality. Tim had picked up the pieces and swept up the rubble (conscientiously thinking to ask me first if I “wanted the pieces for art” or anything).
So what are we eating dinner off tonight? I don’t know. Small plates or cereal bowls, I guess! We have renters’ insurance, but we think the deductible is higher than the value of the dishes. Most likely, as my mom suggested, we’ll buy two dishes this month. And then next month, two more. And the month after that, and after that, to replace the ones that were lost.
I wrote about this because I don’t know why, but I feel like this moment will come back around in some way— the noise, the breakage, the mess. In the meantime I suppose it’s just a reminder that dishes aren’t memories, broken bowls can make art, and when a bracket is done, it’s just plain done.