It’s just a bowl, I tell myself as I pull it down from the comfort of its home on the second shelf of the storage cabinet where it’s been out of sight for the past year. It’s heavy, a sign it’s a good piece, not that crap you buy at Home Goods and ditch a year later. I should probably keep it, I think, but no, maybe I should sell it—at least get some money for it. I vacillate.
My head knows it’s just a stupid bowl, but my heart isn’t as easily fooled. I stare at it. It’s surrounded by two fondue pots, one that’s still in the original multi-colored gift bag. Why do I still have those fondue pots? I’ve never once made fondue—it’s too complicated for someone who turns the page on a recipe that has more than five ingredients.
I look back at the bowl— a beautiful silver Wilton/Armor salad bowl with a set of matching tongs—something every southern bride in 2000 would have selected for her registry at the local Belk. Instead, I chose it as my holiday gift from the Pfizer holiday gift catalog the year when smoke was still brewing from where the Twin Towers once stood in downtown Manhattan.
At the time, I didn’t have a need for it, but I was looking ahead—I knew that in the not so distant future, I’d host Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday parties, and I would want to have that bowl. I thought, it’s one less thing I would need to register for when I too, would be setting up house in favor of a corporate cubicle.
With each move to Michigan, to Tennessee, DC and back to NC, I carefully wrapped the bowl in brown packing paper and placed it in a tall U-Haul kitchen box, alongside the fondue pots and corning wear. Silently, I’d say, I am going to need this someday, I am going to want to serve a fresh tossed salad in this bowl to accompany the lasagna I’ll make for Christmas dinner.
Today as I prepare for another move, I look at the bowl, and the voice that used to say, you’ll need me someday, no longer has an opinion—it’s gone silent. The girl who dreamed of family holidays and tablescapes of colorful serving dishes now dreams of holiday travels to places that take two days of airtime to finally arrive at your bucket list destination.
The bowl is now just a bowl—finally—a future no longer predicated on a vision of what I thought my life would be, but on what I am today. I don’t engage in idle chatter with the voices of the past, but simply place the bowl in the box set aside for Good Will donations—there’s someone out there who will use this for their Thanksgiving Day feast, but for me, I will choose to traipse across Southeast Asia in search of the perfect Mi Quang.
So for the first time in 13 years, I decided to embrace what my life has become—solo dinners and holiday travel getaways, and accept that it’s ok my life didn’t’ turn out the way I thought—large dinner parties and family Christmases. Serving bowls, tongs and fondue pots are a no longer a prerequisite for me entering adulthood—but just a symbol of a path not chosen. And well, if at some point, I want to go down that path, I can just buy a new bowl.