I am transient here, in this kitchen. I only have a year in it and I feel it slipping away each day that passes. Six months left. Almost five. If I hold my breath will the clock stop?
There is nothing here which is just here. I have chosen things, things which open doors of memories, windows to conversations and events. No, not events. That's a cold word. Moments. Sweet moments that crotchet themselves into relationships.
Here is a white bowl.
Meagan and I shopped at the Christmas Market. It was cold and rainy. I had ridden my bike to one of Verona's piazzas. The one with the ancient and powerful Arena. This one was not the one with the normal daily market, but the one that was for anything and everything. Crowds, events, tourists, and all of us who lived there who needed to walk or bike through it. It sometimes held sphinxes of Verdi's Egypt, waiting to be lifted into L'Arena for the opera. At Christmas, a star exploding with points in every direction appeared. Surely this star was the literal size of a shooting star. After Christmas, La Befana, an overgrown paper mache witch, was lit.
It was here, that I watched one year become another. It was turning 2011, the year I was to be married. I was with one of my professors from college and his wife. We sat outside at a cafe. It should have been very cold, but I don't remember that. I remember being happy. We were silly, I believe, that night. And the fireworks shooting down, down!, from the top of L'Arena surprised me. I have tried to explain it, the wonderment and amazement of those fireworks – the beauty. Wave upon wave shooting down the side of a building. It seemed too dangerous. But, of course, they had it all under control.
This market was another time. The market of Meagan and the white bowl. Maybe the Christmas season before. The end of 2009. Meagan and I met at our language school. Our Texan hometowns were just an hour a part. Her friendship was a constant reminder how God surprises us even when we are across the world.
The booths felt like a fair, bright and loud, and smelling like every other greasy street fair. Jewelry, cheep scarves, expensive ones, too. Finger puppets and food from the coast, from the south, from the Alps. And there were the demonstrations. Infomercials in real life. Here was a stand, Buy These Knifes, with piles of fresh food to be chopped so easily. Harder things, impossible things to be cut. Slice it right through. No problem. The performer sales men wore microphones so the watching crowed could hear.
Two rows over was the booth with the white dishes from Germany. I love white dishes. Clean, fresh, modern, yet old. Mix and match, stark white and slightly creamed, just shades of the same.
I bought this bowl. It would be my Christmas present to me. I could imagine a salad, green-red-yellow, on the balcony table which sat six. An after school luncheon for my classmates at school. Or filled with pasta for an indoor party at my table which sat fourteen.
It reminds me of a baby. A newborn could fit in it, yes. But it is more the curves, the higher sides and the slight dip in the middle. The roundness of it. The large holes to make handles at either end. It is a cradle.
I purchased it from a man who spoke mostly German. We both tried out our Italian and we both tried for a good deal, him to make one and me to get one. I have no idea the price. But, I'm sure it was worth it. He wrapped it in a thin layer of newspaper.
It started misting. And then that mist took on the shape of little droplets. I kissed Meagan's cheek good night and walked out of the crowed to find my bicycle. I had a basket, but I hadn't thought that the bowl was bigger than the basket. Surely the curved bottom could fit somehow. But it could not. Not easily. Not symmetrically.
I rode through the ally-like stone streets, trying to balance this bike and this bowl and this basket. All my memories of night in Verona are golden. Were the street lights more yellow than white? Is it memory that turns Italy into sepia beauty, or was it really so? Verona was most beautiful wet, the romance of thousands of years, shimmering like a living oil painting, neither dusty nor dull.
It was a hard ride home. Always going home, with the slightest up-hill to the road was harder. The rain. The bowl.
This bowl is too big for everyday. It sits high in the kitchen watching us. But then there is the big salad, or the excess of fruit. And then it sits on the table. It has crossed the ocean with me. I wonder if it ever could imagine living in an old farm kitchen. But, it is home here, and so am I.