Friday, January 20, 2006


My mother and I have a long standing argument about the "stuff" I have stored at her house in Seattle. Now, it's not a case of a childhood room being preserved with teenage content intact. I moved away from home when I was 16 and have only lived there for a few summers since. When I 18, Mom moved to a much smaller place (a houseboat) and I had to clear out every single one of my remaining possessions from the old place. In fact, she stored some things with me for a while when she remodeled the houseboat. (Note: in Seattle, houseboats are like little floating houses; they are not boat-like. Yes, it's sort of like "Sleepless in Seattle," that hateful, hateful movie.)

When I moved to North Carolina for grad school, my mom kept a few things for me: my ski equipment, ski clothing, a table (the table belonged to Mom, but I used it for years) and a few items from my trousseau.

My trousseau? Yes indeed. When my grandmother died, I said I would like to have her china. I always loved the pattern. Napoleon Ivy. Wedgwood. It's gorgeous. My mother agreed to hold it for me until I had my own household. I put her off for years. I refused to take it the entire time I lived in NC. When I moved to my newer, larger place in DC, I said I would take the stuff, but I couldn't figure out how to get it here (the table, in particular, seemed to present an insurmountable problem). I still didn't think I was ready.

Recently, Mom decided I was.

She told me that I might not like my presents this year, but that was too bad. I had an inkling of what to expect.

Tabitha romps among the packing materials.

The first box arrived a few days ago. It contained the cereal bowls. I was happy to see them. The cereal bowls were the only part of the set that Grandma kept out for everyday use. I remember happy mornings in Miami eating cereal with sugar (a real treat) out of the Napoleon Ivy bowls.

Clockwise from the upper left corner: a cereal bowl, a small bowl and a dinner plate.

The next box arrived on Thursday night. It contained a part of the set I had never seen. Twelve small bowls. What are they for? Dessert perhaps? Are they finger bowls? There were also three dinner plates and a lovely oval serving dish.

The serving dish.

I'm surprisingly happy to have the dishes. No matter that I don't have room to store them since my every day set takes up more cupboard space than I have. I also feel like a complete moron for not just packing up the dishes and shipping them to myself the last time I was home. I guess I was resisting taking these things, for all my protestations otherwise.

But they are here with me now, and they are not going sit around unused for another fifteen years. I'm having people over a week from Sunday, and if the rest of the dinner plates arrive by then, that's what we'll use.

I wonder what surprises the next box will hold.

Grateful for: Napoleon Ivy.

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