My fridge died today. It happened at the tail end of a trying week, both physically and emotionally, one during which more often than not, events reminded me how lucky I was to have my health and my strength. I had planned to do next to nothing today: rain outside and us inside, vegging on the couch, our attention shifting between the paper and Netflix. Ottie and Portia highly approved of the plan.
Last night I had trouble falling asleep, obsessing over the possibility of adopting a third dog that had come to our attention. I reviewed all the reasons why a third dog would be an impossibility: walking three large dogs would be beyond my physical abilities; they wouldn’t fit in my car; vet and food bills would increase exponentially; five of us on the couch, watching tv, would mean either moving the tv to another room and a bigger couch or stopping the dogs from climbing up forevermore. Then I realized my mind was doing the schizophrenic dance it does when I am tired and overwhelmed – it runs through all the worst case scenarios it is capable of unearthing. What I needed was sleep, not hypotheticals, so I took a few deep breaths and let go of the dog who might or might not come to live here next week.
This morning it was the fridge’s turn to become schizophrenic, its panels flashing a series of zeros and annoying clicking noises ruining my breakfast. A quick glance at the manual and I knew it was the compressor unable to start again. There followed a couple of hours spent researching fridges, warranties and service which left me as helpless as when I began: search the internet with enough determination and every make, model and company has plenty of horrid reviews, partly because satisfied customers don’t take time out of their day to post glowing reviews on how delighted they are with their appliances. And four hours in, I could feel my food growing bacteria.
Neighbours came to the rescue when I asked to stash a few items in their freezers, and the rest of the meat and veggies will have to be cooked between today and tomorrow. My day was most definitely not going according to plan and I began to feel sorry for myself.
Irritated as I was, I crept on the couch with a bowl of spicy chickpea soup and I let Portia climb after me and rest her head in my lap. Soon her rhythmic breathing and light snoring calmed me down. “The fridge is just a thing, an expensive one but just a thing. You cannot be riled by objects” I told myself. I looked at the dead behemoth and stopped cursing it.
Recently I helped a friend clean out two rooms in her house that, under a veneer of tidiness, hid hordes of useless possessions. I thought the process would be cathartic for her but I could see how hard it was to part with objects I considered insignificant. It was a task in self-restraint to withhold my judgment and keep my tongue in check while I was filling bag after bag with unused toiletries from years gone by.
At the end of the day, I lied on my bed wishing for a white minimalist house devoid of any objects – I felt weighed down by possessions that weren’t even mine. Remembering that feeling, I decided I could live without a fridge for a few days – people did a couple of centuries ago. It would be a fun experiment and there was no need to rush to Home Depot to buy a new appliance under the pouring rain. Tonight I would make cotolette with mushrooms and mashed potatoes and tomorrow I would use the squash for a risotto. Then, we will see.
When I first moved into this house, over ten years ago, I took a fire training course. I live in an area that is prone to wild fires and mud slides (and let’s skim over earthquakes) and I was instructed to make a list of documents and possessions I would have to gather in case of a quick evacuation (which did happen). I made three lists: one if I have only 15 minutes; one if I am afforded 30 minutes and one if I am lucky to have a few hours.
It was a sobering experiment to figure out what objects – besides passports and insurance papers – really mattered: my 52-year-old teddy bear, photographs, jewelry, my journals, just the objects I have invested with emotional baggage. Not many. The fridge or its contents were definitely not among them.
As I write, the rain is falling on the large cooler I filled with some perishables and ice which I put aside where it’s much colder. It feels a bit like camping. Which means that if I can still view annoyances as an adventure, I will be alright. Even if, for the record, I loathe camping.
All images found in the public domain