Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Bowl

This is a story about how something fairly simple and mundane can become imbued with significance. Something like this:

My wife and I knew we were right for each other almost from the very beginning. I mean, I don't know that anybody sees a person or talks to a person for the first time and says, "Hey, yeah, that's the person I'm going to spend the rest of my life with." That would be sort of creepy, actually. But once we started dating, we spent a lot of time together and then a lot more time, until we were practically inseparable, and in that time it became pretty clear that there'd never be anybody else for either of us.

Once we figured that out, though, we couldn't have been happier. You've probably never known anyone who looked forward to getting married and spending their lives together than we did. We were engaged for three years as we finished school and got started on our careers, and during that time we constantly looked forward to the future. By the time we were wed, we had a goodly collection of stuff that we'd need in our new, shared home. I don't specifically remember whether this pasta bowl was one of those items or not, but I think it was. At the latest, we may have picked it up within the first year or so after we were married. I do recall that we liked it enough that we picked up one or two more just like it and made them the base for gift baskets for other friends of ours.

So we've had our pasta bowl for around fifteen years, give or take a year or so. It's a nice bowl - big, solidly heavy, with a wide mouth that's easy to scoop into and does a nice job of presenting the food as if to say, "Look what you get to have for dinner. Doesn't it look wonderful? Dig in!" Oh, the meals we've served in that bowl - ziti, penne, rigatoni, shells, elbows, fettuccine, goulash, marinara, alfredo, ravioli - all of it.

Sadly, its final meal was Sunday night's goulash. My wife noticed a hairline crack in the side that went all the way through and ran from top to bottom. We finished dinner, rinsed it out, and into the trash it went. It's just a piece of broken pottery, and out it went.

But it wasn't, not really. I mean, we didn't cry over it or anything, but it was a bit wistful to see it go. It had become a part of our lives over that time - it had significance not because of how well it held our food, but just by being. Just by being there. It was there, with us, through all those meals that weren't just food, either. They were expressions of our love and caring for each other as we took one of mankind's oldest, most basic tasks - preparing food - and did it in our own way, to our own tastes and, most importantly, for each other. For our family. And that bowl got to be a part of that. It can't feel honored because it's just a bowl, but we can cherish it because it had achieved a certain status in our family just by its presence.

We can get the same sort of bowl off eBay. We may, even. It won't be exactly the same bowl, but it can serve the same function and can stand in for its predecessor. Maybe this will be the one that lasts for generations, or maybe it'll be out in the trash in another fifteen years. It doesn't matter, really. It's just an observer. It's just a bystander. The food, the family, the feelings we have for each other - those are for keeps.

No comments:

Post a Comment