In our new series Writers’ Fridges, we bring you snapshots of the abyss that writers stare into most frequently: their refrigerators.
Any discussion of my fridge in the current moment needs to begin with a discussion of who lives in my home: my husband and I, our nine-year-old daughter (who likes Lunchables but not the particular flavor of Lunchable that has been sitting in our fridge for the past week), and our three-month-old daughter—who, in her beautiful way, takes up much of the time that might otherwise be spent, say, cleaning out the fridge. Which is all to say: our fridge is actually a pretty decent portal into the acts of survival that constitute our daily life.
Witness: the Tupperware of beef stew that a good friend brought over when our baby was just a week old; leftovers from the takeout we’ve been living on but haven’t gotten it together to toss; corn we haven’t managed to cook; marinara sauce that looks graced by heavenly light; an apple that I placed in the middle of the bottom shelf to make us look a bit healthier than we actually are!
I look in this fridge and see aspirations alongside realities: the fresh mozzarella that never became part of a caprese salad, the forgotten strawberries, the saving grace of Brooklyn takeout. What impulse makes us save the rice from our last Chinese order, when everyone knows that rice gets hard almost immediately? It’s the impulse to use every part of the buffalo, to waste no portion of the meal we didn’t slave over—to express our gratitude for takeout by using every single last morsel of it, to take none of it for granted. So the rice goes uneaten, for days and days. And yet, there’s a part of me that feels almost affectionate about the wilderness of our fridge, that wants to see: these are the holy days of getting by with our new baby, any way we could.
Once more, I see good intentions and disorder crowding the shelves. I see the three cartons of milk we bought because we never knew if our milk had already gone bad, and it was easier to just buy another one. I see cider purchased to celebrate my elder daughter’s report card. I see the stories of my younger daughter’s early life: the coconut water my best friend brought me in the hospital; the mango smoothie that my mother insisted on pouring for me—over and over again, during the first days of my nursing—and the beauty of being mothered by my mother, as I was learning to mother.
Leslie Jamison is the author, most recently, of The Recovering.