I’ve been to Sears twice this week.
The first time was to mark a rite of passage in our marriage: we bought our second washer-dryer set. The first ones have been giving us indications that fourteen years was enough. The last time the guy came to do the regular maintenance, he suggested we need not renew the maintenance contract. so, some time tomorrow (between three and five, they say) the Sears truck will bring the new ones and take the others to wherever old machines go to die and we will begin a new laundry chapter in our marriage.
The second trip I made was to buy a new grill. They don’t build the grills to last as long as the washers, but we got four good years out of the one I hauled to the town dump on Tuesday. It was a gift from our friend Cherry, so admitting it had grilled its last was even more difficult. I found the one I wanted while we were washer shopping, but two big machines were too much for one day. I got a good grill on sale, came home, assembled it, loaded it back in the Cherokee, and took it to church to break it in. We had a cookout for the three churches going to Jackson on the mission trip, so we could get acquainted a little before we left.
The grill came through with flying (flaming?) colors. I’ll just keep pretending Cherry gave it to me.
I hadn’t really thought about marking time with appliances until I was driving home tonight. We are on our second coffee grinder (the first Krups one was awesome) and our fourth coffee maker. I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which was given to me by Ginger and my in-laws, that’s working on ten years and showing no signs of tiring. I have a Kitchen Aid hand mixer that’s older than that. I have a waffle iron that was a Valentine’s Day present at least eight years ago, and a Cuisinart food processor that was a wedding gift. Some get used everyday, some every week or so, some for special occasions, each one keeping time in its own way. When I plug in the Kitchen Aid, the memories and connections fill the room like the sound of the motor, infusing the ingredients with much more than what is listed in the recipe.
Lifelong machines also teach me patience and contentment. They came out with a bigger Kitchen Aid than the one I have. The newer food processors have dough hooks. We lived fourteen years with annoying buzzer that marked the end of the drying cycle. I’ve learned, over the years, that I don’t need the bigger mixer. The dough blade is nice but not necessary. And we knew to ask, this time, if the machine we bought had a buzzer that could be muted. (It can.)
If the first set is any indication, I’ll be almost sixty-five when we go shopping for our next washer and dryer. All the clothes of my fifties will be washed and dried in the machines that will be delivered tomorrow. I will see my twentieth, twenty-fifth, and thirtieth wedding anniversaries pass without having to hear the dryer buzzer unless I want to.
Maybe part of the reason this has come to my mind is In the division of labor in our household, Ginger is the one who does most of the laundry. I’m the cook, garbage, and telephone person; she’s the laundry, bills, and bargaining person. We both help out as we need to, and we are both happy doing what either comes naturally or what the other one can’t do well. Love gets lived out in daily tasks and responsibilities, helped along by washers and dryers and mixers and grinders. Getting a new one reminds me why it was there in the first place: we decided to live our lives together.
I won’t be here to mark the occasion tomorrow. I have a long shift at the restaurant. When I leave, the old machines will be here; when I come home, the new ones will be all hooked up and ready to spin so we can continue to stack up our days together like folded clothes ready to be worn once more.
When it comes right down to it, the washer and dryer matter because I’m in love with my laundry woman. As for the grill and the Kitchen Aid, the woman in my house is crazy about the cook.
And so one of the ways we mark time – and love – is with appliances.