I like nice things, but I don’t consider myself materialistic. It’s funny, then, how things like hand towels can represent unexpected emotions.
As I sort through the pile of black garbage bags – filled with things I packed from our water-logged and now moldy house – I’m surprised at how comforting it feels to have my hand towels in the bathroom of our new apartment. They’re old towels that look stained and worn, but they’re mine. Ours. The texture feels familiar against my skin after I wash my face.
My favorite can opener, a red Kitchen Aid can opener, now lies in a drawer in the kitchen. I’ve used other can openers in the past, but this one feels good in the hand and gets the job done. The chemical-laiden cleaning products that were under the sink have now been replaced with my trusted arsenal of plant-based soaps and sprays.
I miss silly things like Caller I.D., since the Panasonic cordless resting on the nightstand is a Stegosaurus by today’s standards. I miss the dimmers we had on all the lights in our house. Here, it’s either off or on. And I long for the over-sized stainless steel sink that I used to fill up with dishes after cooking an elaborate dinner. In this apartment, I battle the low-slung faucet that catches the edge of a soup pot, and the shallow sink that makes washing a sheet pan laborious.
What surprises me most is how much I miss television. I don’t ever watch it during the day and there are only a handful of shows we watch on weeknights (does anyone know what’s happening on Parenthood ?) We have yet been able to get the cable company over here to hook us up to normalcy and without the background chatter of Nick Jr. or Disney, it’s positively quiet around here. But a small miracle occurred. A friend of my mom’s had an old-school TV/VHS player combo in her basement and when she heard how bored my kids have been without any “normal” entertainment, she sent it over with a bunch of Disney movies.
I had to explain to my son what a VHS tape is. Ugh. I suddenly felt like my dad when he tried to explain what the hell an 8-track is. I still don’t know.
Oh and here’s another weird thing. Laundry relaxes me. I was in the basement before folding a load and I felt unusually at ease with a task that normally pisses me off for what a huge time-suckage task it is. The basement is raw, unfinished. Fuzzy, yellow insulation peaks out from the walls and there is a massive and somewhat creepy-looking oil burner in one corner. But I wasn’t bothered by it as I folded Madeleine’s ladybug pajamas.
Comfort in the familiar.