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.
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.
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.
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.
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.