For a Capricorn I’m not much of a materialist, but the easiest way to my heart is great homeware. I have a suitor who buys me expensive kitchen appliances whenever he wants to get back in my pants. I won’t say whether it works, but mostly I’m limited to this writer’s income when it comes to cooking equipment. The bulk of my dishes are unmatched, chipped thrift store finds because I can’t bear the unseemliness of low-end, mass-produced sets.
I tend to save up for months (years) for one big purchase so I have a gorgeous blue slow cooker from a 2008 trip to the Le Creuset outlet, a monstrously effective Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker from 1995, a cast-iron pan from 1991 (my first big kitchen purchase), a great Wusthof chef’s knife from 2012, one set of Fiestaware dinner plates purchased in 2000–and the perfect no-stick, heavy-duty saucepan bought in 2015, when Bloomingdales had one of its nutty-bananas sales. Or at least I had the saucepan until yesterday when, addled by my first vaccine shot, I scorched it beyond use while heating up some matzo ball soup.
Isn’t it funny what losses we can bear and what losses we cannot? I think of that Elizabeth Bishop stanza: The art of losing isn’t hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent/to be lost that their loss is no disaster. As an intuitive, I break things whenever my energy shifts so I usually take it in stride. Only this week, I broke a coffee mug and bird figurine and barely batted an eyelash.
But sometimes losing vital possessions is how my unconscious forces me to feel my feelings. I’ll lose my wallet in Whole Foods when I break it off with a beau. Or my house and car keys in a bodega while mourning my family of origin. The items always disappear mysteriously and abruptly, highlighting my existential and practical isolation.
I never find them until I break down in very very public tears. And when I do, the message is always the same: Do not try to fast-forward through your feelings or they will find you by force if necessary.
Yesterday was not about anything mysteriously disappearing, though. It was about a precious investment being ruined beyond repair–about the numbness that cloaks not sorrow but loss of faith. As I wept over my poor beloved pot–not baking soda, not vinegar, not even Barkeepers Friend could put Humpty Dumpty together again–waves of relief finally washed over me. And behind the relief: fear, grief, and rage.
I have one more shot scheduled so am not fully vaccinated yet. And even when I get that second shot, I will wear the mask, keep my distance, pray for others’ immunity to follow. But starting to come out of mortal danger means I finally can see the forest for the trees–and it has been a disenchanted forest indeed.
There’s no saucepan in the world that can boil away this collective trauma, but there is a Le Cruesset 4-quarter that I’ve got my eye on. Things can’t fix us, but they sure can help.