Growing up, my parents made the executive decorating decision to slap cherry wood panels on our refrigerator. They jazzed up our kitchen a touch (cabinet or appliance? I can’t even tell!), but they had no magnetic powers whatsoever, meaning all the little scraps of our lives — my very special breed of elementary school artwork, the quickly accumulating proof of my brothers’ academic achievements — were relegated to the bottom of drawers and the back of closets.
When I moved in with Dave, I was excited for a lot of things, but, creepily enough, having our own fridge really ranked up there. I quickly got to work transforming the plain white canvas of that aging Philadelphia appliance into a vertical collage. Up went the thank you card from Casey’s bar mitzvah, the New Yorker cartoon that reminded me to calm the fuck down every time I swung open the fridge door for a glass of seltzer, the congratulatory envelope that our friend Matt hid in our house, admonishing us to only open it only once we were engaged. The task was to put together a puzzle of paper that felt just like our life, and I rejected dozens of scraps and mementos that weren’t true or funny or us enough.
When we were moving to New York, I dutifully culled a Best Of Philly Fridge collection and chucked the rest. The spared relics got tucked under a magnetized clip on a corner of our new (older, less shiny, definitely still not stainless steel) New York fridge: they were proof of two years in Philadelphia spent sending off one rent check together. The rest of the fridge was wide open, ready for this new life we were starting in this new city.
Today, I’m pretty sure you can read our whole last year on our fridge.
There’s wedding detritus galore: a favorite RSVP card from Evan, complete with a hand-doodled map and a little airplane of him flying to Connecticut; invitations with Rachel and David plastered all over them (engagement party, bridalshowerbridalshowerbridalshower, rehearsal dinner, we really milked this whole impending marriage thing, didn’t we?) There’s our save the date, and save the dates for other people’s weddings, friends who are now husbands and wives. A picture of a very cute baby born this past March to a girl I’ve known since we were basically babies ourselves. Postcards and magnets from Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica — the places that we, and the people we love, have been. A hospital praise card, whatever that is. The black and white self-portrait they handed out at Barbara’s funeral, with the message on the back that I still read all the time. One of the Book of Mormon tickets we won in the lottery. Reminders of lovely dinners out and the staggering bills that came with them (I’m looking at you, watercolored Daniel card.)
All pinned up with those Met magnets I bought, in a moment of distress, just about a year ago.
It’s 2012 now, and I can tell that I don’t cry quite as much as I did during this time in 2011. (Though anyone who saw me on the 5 train chugging home from work last night around 8 p.m. might beg to differ.) I walk like a New Yorker and talk like a New Yorker and shop like a New Yorker with a job on Wall Street (that I do not have! has to stop!) I have a New York voter registration card and a Duane Reade discount card and a metro card that I honestly rarely use because I walk absolutely everywhere. I have good days, great flashes of love for this city — they mostly hit me while I’m trudging crosstown in my sandals — and I have bad days too, like yesterday, with the public crying and the self doubt and the feelings of, what the fuck am I doing with my life? and why do I not seem to be doing it as well as everyone else?
But I still know that this is the right place for me right now, and honestly, it’s become impossible to imagine being anywhere else.
A few weeks ago, someone asked Dave where he was thinking of applying for fellowship programs. Were we still set on going back to Philly; did Dave want to try for Boston again?
“I don’t think she’ll let us leave,” he said.
No, I don’t think she will.