It's a friend of sorts, my fridge, knows me, my hopes and has seen me at my worst without making judgement. As I sit here tonight, its fan is humming, it's making gurgling sounds and it has a purpose in life. Some people I know have achieved far less than that.
There's no other sound in the house this late at night, and the world outside is very quiet. The fridge, covered with magnets, pictures, clippings and odd little things that define me, has a personality, a certain kind of beauty, although the beauty is more a function of usefulness and familiarity to me than of true elegance or prettiness. It's sturdy, has modern lines, a practical demeanor. This model - an Amana - has the fridge on top and a freezer drawer down below - I don't have to kneel on the floor to get to the vegetable bins inside. It hums, sighs, ticks, rattles and buzzes - all small sounds that register in my consciousness as indicators of a pleasing normality, a comforting home.
Sometimes I think about what I'd do in a disaster, what I'd take with me in a rush to save myself. People are told to prepare a box of important papers, family photos and important things like safe deposit box keys and medicines. I'd like to roll my fridge away and save it from ruin. It knows so much about me and has seen me in so many moods. You don't just walk away from something like that.
I don't have a pet or therapist. I have my fridge. It's held my various foods for ten years or so and knows all my habits, all my odd behaviors. If I am bored or have no idea what to write, I stand there with the door open, staring blankly at the contents. The fridge obliges me, stands before me, open, offering no opinions. It clicks its fan on when the interior has warmed too much, a reminder to pay attention, close the door.
I've never thought of my fridge as a machine, even when it nearly died - especially then. Once it stopped running, like it was dead all of a sudden, which was very surprising. I realized I'd been taking it for granted, neglected it, and suspected I may have abused it somehow. I fussed over it, cleaned it meticulously, made desperate promises and was wildly relieved when, revitalized, it began to hum again after I plugged it in. It was a moment of grace, and I felt completely grateful.
Who'd have thought the near-death experience of a fridge would have taught me something about love and appreciation. But, it's true. I confess to loving my fridge and its soft gurgling sound after the fan turns off, like right now with the rest of the world out there all quiet and dark.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way