Monday, September 10, 2012

Garage Sales, Paul Revere, and Corelle

The prospect of a neighbourhood garage sale had us dusting off old books and excess kitchen ware, and digging out outdated electronics from the cupboards and rafters. What started as a combination of house cleaning and gleaning-of-stuff for the sale turned into a twist of fond memories and cringe-worthy nostalgia.

I have a slight habit of saving everything; my thriftiness and sentimentality my own worst enemy. When a cleaning bug hits, however, I seize the moment and let my deep-seated minimalist side emerge; I pitch as much unused stuff as I can. But when I opened a barely used cupboard housing my 22 year-old Corelle dishes, I had a moment of nostalgia that rocked me off my momentum. I could never rid of the dishes steeped in history; the thought of slapping on a piece of masking tape with some insulting low price, barbaric.

When I was 18 years old, I travelled to Boston, Massachusetts. I was living in Richmond, British Columbia at the time, so that was a big trip for a young, na├»ve girl. Distant family friends in Waltham put me up, but they had to work and I was my mostly on my own. I had been there four years before with my family and had a vague idea of where I was going, so by foot, bus, train and subway I zigzagged from one side of Boston to the other. I saw everything historical from Paul Revere’s house to the State House, and can say I went to Harvard University – I have the T-shirt to prove it. And just to add to my history-laden experiences, I watched the beginning of the Gulf War on the news with my hosts.

History aside, I was also keen to shop. From the marketplace at Faneuil Hall to K-mart in Waltham, I was eager to find treasures different from my homeland across the border. With stars in my eyes and the taste of freedom on my tongue I was also planning my future and had already been saving household stuff for my apartment I supposedly was going to have one day.

But of course, I couldn’t buy simple things like a potholder from Boston to bring back for my future apartment. I had to buy dishes.

And little did I know that the Corelle dishes I purchased from K-mart in Waltham, Massachusetts for $9.99 would eventually have their own history to tell.

I loved the cute set and was determined to get them home. I lugged the heavy box of dishes through Customs then a plane change in Toronto, Ontario, where they then sat under my feet during the final stretch of my journey to Vancouver International Airport. Not only did I learn to never do that again (I had other luggage to juggle), but I also learned that a glass of wine in business class at 30,000 feet without having eaten has drastic affects. But it was fun.

Those dishes would sit in the box unused for two years until I got married – I never got my OWN apartment. They were used during my first few newlywed years, only to be replaced by an updated pattern – of Corelle brand, of course. The dishes sadly made their way to the back of a cupboard, but were never far from my mind. They had a history.

A few years later we moved, and during our packing and cleaning my dear husband passed on a box of excess stuff which, unbeknownst to me, included my dishes, to his mother. When we went to their house not too long after, I was gleefully surprised when she cheerfully served us dinner on MY dishes I apparently gave her. I couldn’t eat.

After a night of tears mourning the loss of my dishes, the dutiful man he is crawled back to his mother and explained the situation. My own be-heading was inevitable, but at least I would have my prized dishes back.

I got them back, but it was a non-topic for a long time, and luckily the situation soon blew over.

Years later, the dishes were put back into circulation, but after a plate broke and a mug chipped (they are supposed to be unbreakable), and given that I was raising a house of raucous men, I figured they were safer stored away. I didn’t want my precious dishes – a piece of my history – to be ruined forever.

So 22 years later they still reside in a cupboard. I piled all the other garage sale stuff on the floor, but took a moment to pull out my dishes to admire and remember. They, ahem, weren’t washed thoroughly so many years ago, so I washed them to a keen shine, and put them back in the cupboard. Over 5,000 km they travelled, and through three moves, two kids, and a near-fatal family rift, they have survived. They have a priceless history that could never be sold or bartered.

8 comments:

  1. Lisa, what a sweet story. I think we all have possessions like that, ones that will be with us forever - even if they mostly reside in the basement - and carry precious memories. It's always such fun to drag them out every now and then, and go back in time...

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    1. Thank you, Susan. Everything has a history - a story to tell - for sure. Thank you for reading!

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  2. Lisa
    Great story. I love your gentle sense of humor about life and our journey through it. I'll never look at Corell dishes without thinking of you.
    Best Wishes
    Jo-Ann

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    1. Thank you, Jo-Ann - you are a constant supporter! Thank you for reading, and best wishes in your writing. Lisa

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  3. Aww. Sweet and funny at the same time. They truly are a piece of your history.

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    1. Thank you, Pat. Yes, they are a part of history, maybe one to be passed on to my boys, one day - if they can handle the 'girly' pattern on the dishes! Thank you for reading, take care, Lisa

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  4. What a sweet story, Lisa! What a determined soul you were to lug those things all that way! It's funny what we won't part with. I was going through a file of receipts last night looking for the receipt for our (leaking) kitchen tap (never found it), when I happened across the receipt for my wedding dress. I have no idea why I've hung onto it all these years (it's not like I'm going to return it!), yet I couldn't seem to toss it out with all the other expired warranties.

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    1. Don't throw it out, Ros - save the wedding dress receipt. What a keepsake - and full of memories, too. Thanks for reading and for your kind words. Lisa

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