Several years ago, I was registering for gifts for my wedding. I sifted through so many websites looking for the perfect set of plates, and just couldn't find what I was looking for. In my mind, I kept thinking of my Mimi's dishware. Old white plates with a kind of geometric Native American type design along the border. Not really my style, and yet, I kept looking for something that looked like those plates. But no matter how many places I looked, I couldn't find just the right thing. There's no way I ever could have, and not just because they were decades old and no longer available for purchase.
You see, what I realize now, that I didn't then, is that what I truly loved about those plates were the many, many streaky silverware marks that made once white dishes swirled into gray. (It's no surprise thinking back now that I ended up registering for gray plates... the closest I could get, I guess.) I remember once when I was very small, cutting something on my plate at Mimi's house and realizing the lines I left behind with my fork, feeling both a little guilty and also kind of amazed. Before that moment, I hadn't realized that those weren't originally part of the plates, but rather markings from the people who used them. What I was trying to register for all those years ago was the physical manifestation of a happy, well-lived life. Something I could never buy, or even force. Even if I'd bought thrift store plates, those wouldn't be MY silverware markings. It's something that simply takes time. Many marks made over many, many years. From special birthday dinners, and little snacks before bed, to a piece of fruit loving cut for your sister or your nephew. It is the evidence of happy memories you didn't even realize you were making in the moment that added up to be a wonderful life when viewed in retrospect.
I'm finally starting to see some of those markings on my own dishes, albeit with a different husband (a whole different story for a different day). Every time I take out my favorite casserole dish and see those little gray scrape marks, it fills me with happiness and gratitude for the beautiful life I'm building, and I can't wait to see how they accumulate over the years to come.
I think this may become a regular column here, as I have many more little moments and manifestations I'd like to share, but I'd like to let them stand alone to really appreciate each one. What is your physical manifestation of a life well-lived? Whatever it is, I hope you take time to cherish it.