One of my favorite authors, Wally Lamb, wrote a beautiful forward in his latest novel (his first in 10 years,) “The Hour I First Believed.” Written in the dedication, for his mother, now deceased, Lamb makes several references to her refrigerator. He states, “ …it was the outside of Ma’s fridge that best spoke of who she was. The front and sides were papered with greeting cards, holy pictures, and photos, old and new, curling and faded, of all the people she knew and loved.” This immediately sparked memories of my grandma Grace’s refrigerator, routing me to my own fridge, which now houses one of my grandmother’s old magnets, a butterfly.
You can infer a lot about a person based on the outside of their refrigerator. Mine is plastered with pictures of friends, family, invitations, quotes, and magnets. It is a shrine to those I love. I’m just not a “comic strip” kind of girl. One of my best friends, Kate, once had a Robert Frost quote taped to her freezer that read, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” I love this quote. Maybe it’s still there, buried beneath the abundance of pictures. Maybe she took it down and replaced it with a new phrase.
I collect magnets from various places, though not necessarily places I’ve been. Friends, family, and co-workers often scoop up a magnet when they’re on vacation and it’s a neat reminder, knowing a small souvenir traveled hundreds or thousands of miles. I keep a great deal of my magnet collection on a file cabinet at work and it is often an icebreaker for conversation when folks stop by my desk. One prominent question, “Did you realize the Texas magnet is upside down?” The Texas magnet, a gift from Wes and Kristie, remains intentionally upside down in a “Where’s Waldo” fashion, and yet, it is always discovered.
I think of the things that used to adorn my refrigerator in my early twenties. There was an overflow of pictures of friends, typically toting a beer in hand. Now, photographs display my friends and their children, and photograph’s of family. There was an absence of family photo’s in my youth. Ah, the evolution of importance is ever-present on my giant kitchen appliance. I often dissect refrigerators. Newlyweds tend to decorate the outside with a multitude of “couple” pictures, parents and grandparents proudly display pictures of their children and grandchildren, or artwork created by their children and grandchildren.
In many ways, it truly is a shrine of what we love, of what we value. A person will also notice when they’ve “made the ‘fridge.” It’s a silent compliment. In this recognition, I thank Mr. Lamb for the reminder.