The plate-shaped void in my soul.

I am in mourning for a plate.

That’s not a metaphor. I am genuinely grieving the loss of a dinner plate.

This isn’t a fresh grief, this hurt has spanned decades. And although I know it’s just a piece of dinnerware, honestly, I don’t expect to ever fully recover.

It was a damn fine plate.

I blame my childhood (don’t I always?). See, when I was a kid, and we were still living in the house I grew up in, we had this beautiful set of (now-)retro stoneware. Hued in a burnished hybrid of dark olive green and storm cloud grey tones, the plates and mugs had an appearance and texture similar to polished soapstone that I just couldn’t get enough of.

The mugs were otherwise unadorned. Which was fine. They were sturdy and had nice lines to them and they were everything a good mug should be. But the plates were patterned, a whorl of teardrop shapes in marbled blue-green glaze radiating out from the center, and I thought this was just about the most beautiful thing ever.  The overall visual effect of the design was like looking down at a deconstructed dahlia that had died of joy after soaking up the entirety of the Caribbean sea.

Photo © Glass Half Delicious 2014

Anyone else hear Enya singing?  Photo © Glass Half Delicious 2014

I could have stared at those plates for hours, tracing the designs. That’s what happens when you’re an only child and have to make your own fun.

Sadly, despite my practically hypnotic attraction to the teardrop plates, my parents favored our lighter Corelle dishes (in the wildly underwhelming Butterfly Gold and Indian Summer designs, no less) almost exclusively over the heavier stoneware for everyday use.

Almost.

The mugs came out of the cupboard for two main purposes: colds and cooking. At some point in time it was universally agreed that their pleasant texture made them the perfect vehicle for serving hot chicken broth to a sniffly member of the household, and it ruined me for all other soup vessels. I can’t explain it but I swear soup never tasted so good as when it was slurped from one of those goddamn mugs. Mug magic, people. It’s real.

And when they weren’t on germ-fighting duty, the mugs were used as a handy dandy cup measure for baking… and pancake making.

Oh, the pancakes of my youth! They were many. On school days I could never seem to manage to choke down more than a glass of milk before heading out the door, but on weekends I was a breakfast devotee, and pancakes were always my #1 request. Cereal and scrambled eggs had their moments, but as far as I was concerned,  Aunt Jemima might as well have been God.

Oh sweet goddess of all, lend me thy syrup.

Oh sweet Lady of all things fluffy and golden, lend unto me this day thy Butter Lite.

So more often than not, I’d spend my Sunday mornings watching with rapt attention as Mom or Dad pulled the giant box of buttermilk pancake mix out of the pantry and got cracking. But not before putting the stoneware plates in the oven to warm, so the flapjacks piled on them would stay toasty.

Pancakes! And on my favorite plates!? All was well with the world.

Then we moved.

I was fifteen and in the middle of a deep depression when they bought the new house. I doubt I would have noticed if an asteroid hit me, I was so out of touch with everything going on around me. I don’t even remember packing. All I know is one day I lived in one house, and the next day we drove to another and I lived there instead.

So it was a while before I noticed that my beloved plates were gone.

I never asked what happened to them – it wouldn’t have made them magically reappear or anything – but they were definitely gone, either thrown out or given away. I hope it wasn’t the former. I do know that at least one of the cups survived; my parents use it for scooping dog food now. A demotion from its soup and pancake days, perhaps,  but at least I can rest assured that it’s not lying in sad shards somewhere.

But my plates…I have never found their equal. Even eBay and Etsy have failed me in that pursuit. Even Google can’t find me a picture of them, just to let me gaze upon their loveliness one last time.

And every time I think I might have finally moved on with my life, without fail I’ll come across a recipe that calls for keeping a plate warm and ready in the oven, and the feels come flooding right back.

CURSE YOU, CHURRO RECIPE! WHY DIDN’T YOU COME WITH A TRIGGER WARNING?

I know have to accept that they’re gone.

But they will never be forgotten.

Godspeed, beautiful plates, wherever you are.


Anything mundane that you miss irrationally? Come cry on my shoulder, I’ll understand.

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16 thoughts on “The plate-shaped void in my soul.

  1. Growing up, my mum would change over our mugs every year or two (we each had designated mugs just for drinking water). There wasn’t even really a need to change them, but she insisted, and usually I’d be so attached to the old mug that I’d resist the change (except that she changed them over when I wasn’t around, and I usually never found out what happened to the old one). I’d like to think I’m more well-adjusted and whatever now, but, yes, this is certainly another “blame it on your childhood” problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That kind of reminds me of my husband’s grandmother. She used to periodically buy my in-laws new furniture or new appliances every couple of years or so whether they needed it or not. They didn’t want to risk upsetting her by politely refusing, so they just went with it.

      Me? I’d snap if someone kept trying to replace all my stuff, however well-intentioned. Ain’t broke? Don’t fix it. You can buy me a new couch when the springs go on the old one and not a minute before.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Those Corelle plates look like everything that was wrong with 70’s interior design. People look back on that era and picture it like Steve Martin’s mansion in The Jerk but most hideous ’70’s design was subtler and more insidious.
    We moved when I was four. There’s nothing tangible that I know was lost in that move but I think it left me with a lifelong distaste for change even though the new house, and neighborhood, was considerably nicer. At least that’s the way it seemed. Our old house had a graveyard behind it which I think would have become much more interesting as I got older.
    My parents held onto a lot of my childhood junk which I shoved into our attic when they moved to Florida. I’ve sold quite a bit of it, including custom ceramic Star Wars lamps that an aunt made for me. For some reason though in all the junk my parents saved I can’t find my Creature From The Black Lagoon action figure. But it’s probably just as well that it’s gone. I’m a big enough geek as it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a photo lying around somewhere of our old kitchen carpet (yes, wall-to-wall kitchen carpet) that was just as bad, if not worse, than the plates. Although for some reason I still look back on it fondly. Maybe because when you’re a kid, any kind of patterned floor surface can be made into a game.

      Our house had a golf course behind it – which turned out to be great for learning how to swear creatively – but our neighborhood did have a small graveyard tucked away in a corner that I used to like to visit occasionally. We lived a stone’s throw from an Indian reserve, so a lot of the graves had Native American names on them that I thought were just beautiful. Sometimes on warm summer days I would sit there in the shady quiet and read.

      There’s a giant sports field covered in artificial turf next to it now. Not so shady and quiet anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember an oversized armchair, that my parents got rid of, just because it was old and the fabric was ragged. It was so big, two kids fit into it, with room to spare. I remember years of playing on it. It was always so strong and sturdy, nothing like the flimsy things they sell now. I wish we still had it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, what a shame, I love giant armchairs! And they definitely don’t make ’em like they used to. My parents gave me the most fabulous pumpkin-orange corduroy wingback chair that used to live in our old den, and apart from its battered wooden legs it’s still in great shape and amazingly comfy.

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  4. I feel your pain. I really do. But keep an eye out for those plates! For years I had a pink drinking glass in a hobnail design (bumpy). It was the perfect size and with the bumps on it, you were less likely to drop it (and I am a very clumsy person). Everyone liked the glass. One time a friend visited me from out of town and when she saw it she said, “Oh! Pretty glass!” and then because I love her I let her use MY special glass during her entire visit. Flash forward to my son’s toddler years. One time he decided to “help” me by putting my glass away for me. He wanted to set it in the sink until I loaded the dishwasher. Except he dropped my beloved glass into the sink. The glass was broken, just like my heart. I went on an online shopping hunt with no luck. However, I put in a saved search on eBay and one day got a match. Strangely enough, within days I found the same glass on Etsy. With shipping I think I paid $20 for one glass and $17 for another. They were both “used” but looked brand new. Now I have my favorite glass again PLUS a backup hidden away. I hope one day you’ll write a follow-up story. “I Found My Favorite Plate and Now My Life is Perfect”. Have faith darlin’!

    (P.S.– replacements.com is another place to look)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I already used up all my vintage good fortune on the time when eBay reunited me with my two favorite childhood fairy tale books, which I had told my parents to go ahead and get rid of in my teens because I thought I’d outgrown them. (Teenagers are dumb.)

      But I definitely plan on keeping an eye out anyway. I’d love to write that triumphant follow-up tale.

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  5. I had these fat, tin, roly poly looking Santa, Mrs. Santa, Snowman, etc. that I bought at Woolworths in 1980 for $1.00 each. They were called “tobacco tins”. I bought them cause they spoke to me. I displayed them in front of my fireplace every single Christmas, until they disappeared in one of my moves. My now-grown kids all mentioned their absence and they all wanted a set for themselves. Their nostalgia for these touched me and made me go on a search. I went on Ebay and splurged. They were now $15.00 each, but I bought 5 people each a set of 4. $60 for each person, for something I originally spent $4 on. I spent $300 on cheap tin roly-poly’s. And I am so happy about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice writing! And, can I just say that the plate of churros definitely WAS trigger-warning necessary. Those look delicious! As did the pancakes, and I’m not really a pancake person. 🙂 It’s funny how certain items just give us this feeling of nostalgia. For me, it’s fake fruit. My grandmother always has a bowl of plastic pears, apples, etc., out in her living room. As a kid I was always tricked into thinking they were real. (I’d figure out that they were plastic, go home, come back for another visit a month later, see them again, think they were real, find out they weren’t, go home…on repeat…I’m gullible.) Anyway, she bought me a vase filled with fake lemons and I love it because it’s just one of those items I completely associate with her. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I love it! We had a dish overflowing with fake bunches of grapes on our living room coffee table when I was growing up, but the only thing interesting about them was that great pains had been taken to make the grapes themselves look like the real thing (translucent skin, dusty sheen), but the leaves were these horrifying thick plasticky things in the most unnatural shade of green I think I’ve ever seen. That always bothered me. Stupid half-assed grapes.

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