Last friday I came home from a body work session relaxed if a little sore, ready to spend some time with a friend and eat. Because I have been sitting around reading a lot for my graduate school program I haven’t been hungry as much. I’ll get up at 6-ish, eat at about 10 or 11, and maybe go until four before I’m hungry again. This has also led to a number of incidents of me leaving house having forgotten to eat and getting hungry/dizzy and tired within a couple hours. A little more intention to my eating habits is called for… ANYWAY.
So I start to cook dinner, rather I get out the ingredients to begin to cook dinner and I notice that there is a very small space between the top right corner of my kitchen shelves and the wall…hmmm, bad. Okay, well maybe I can just tighten it up a little bit, but I think I’m going to need to replace the screws with anchors. Originally when I put the shelves up there was not much weight on them, so four screws had been enough to hold the shelves for three months, but as I’d acquired a cutting board and other kitchen stuff, the weight had increased. I had failed at the drywall anchors before which is why I didn’t do it right in the first place. As I go with the screwdriver I make one turn and then in slow motion where I am looking at it the shelf drops down and the whole unit crashes to the floor in a fantastic cacophany of shattering glass. Plates, bowls, jars, spices, loose leaf tea, mugs, wine and water glasses, everything I own in a sprawl of broken glass, the epicenter in the middle of my kitchen and the perimeter of which I have not yet found. Shards of glass and ceramic lay all over my apartment. This morning, three days later, I found shards of glass on my couch, yesterday-on top of my table. Under everything, behind everything, everything I owned and had collected was broken and had been distributed into my living space. There were mugs my grandmother gave me from her time working for the foreign service that said “By Appointment to His Majesty The King of Sweden” to a red milk pitcher my mother had given me when I moved into my first apartment four years ago. But to tell you the truth, it wasn’t the loss of the stuff that bothered me at first, it was the feeling of failure at having known that my installation was faulty, and having the arrogance to leave it in anyway because it seemed to work. I tiptoed to my bedroom through the broken glass and the growing pool of water from a large vase of rooting house plants that had fallen in the melee and sat down clutching my phone and hearing the words in my head, “I need help, I can’t do this on my own.” My body was shaking, I peered around the curtain towards the kitchen, and the mess, and the pool of water slowly moving towards my desk, and I moved to the floor. Sitting against the wall with my knees hugged into my chest I beheld the feast of destruction in front of me.
It was a grand disaster to behold. Have you ever imagined a worse case scenario, and then had it come true? In some way it feels very distant, I was in awe. Maybe I would have been sad had it been just a couple of these mugs from my grandmother, items of some sentimental value, but to have everything destroyed in one glorious moment… I don’t know how to describe it. The event itself and the emotion evoked in the happening overshadowed the rest. I called two friends, they comforted me as best they could, I shed a couple tears, if just to release a little of the reverberating crashing inside of me, and then I got up, to put on shoes, and get the broom.
I swept up I’m not sure how many dust pans full of heavy broken remnants, and after that I don’t know how many times I mopped to get the sage and glass dust off the floor. I’ve been cleaning ever since, but my apartment is looking better, perhaps even than it did before.
I had the opportunity to ask for some help from my neighbors who had a drill and experience with drywall screws, they helped me reinstall. Some of the glass went to a neighbor who makes collage and sculpture out of found things. In some ways, I feel it cleared some energy out of my house, there is something in the act of rebuilding that is life affirming, and something in getting rid of objects, especially those we attribute sentimental value to, that allows us to build with new meaning. For me this is particularly poignant because I have worked hard to let go of the parts of me that are who my family thinks I am, rather than the essence of who I am. So this was in some ways a final letting go of the physical talismen of attachment to those identities, and an ability to recreate my relationships with them based on who I am now, not what I have carried with me.
So Saturday morning I went to the farmer’s market where I work and I dropped a jam bottle on the ground and it broke, then I dropped a box. I bought some new glassware at Urban Ore yesterday. The salvaged pieces cost me only $6: two new wine glasses, five new water glasses, a couple small glass jars for flowers, and two new plates. I came home and washed them and broke one of them in the sink. This morning while preparing some food I dropped something on the handle of my favorite mug, one of the only things to survive the crash, a sea-foam green mug with a big blue “Thank you” on it, my gratitude mug. The handle broke into three pieces. I threw my head backed and laughed, laughed, laughed. But this morning, I’m gluing the handle back together, this mug, broken as it is, is mine.