Nicole’s daughter wrote this guest post.
January 2014: I was working a maximum of 12 hours a week on minimum wage trying to stay afloat while I waited to start a new (full-time) job, and was picking out a new refrigerator with my grandparents.
Just five months prior, I had left my apartment, a good job making decent – i.e. “better” – money, and a two-year unhealthy relationship behind, in North Carolina. I had spent six years in Jacksonville after being stationed at Camp Lejeune while in the Marine Corps and had no desire to return home to California.
At some point in those six years, my grandparents’ second home had been burglarized and had suffered rain damage and mold; the 20-something year old refrigerator had suffered as well. So when I moved in in August 2013, we began looking for a replacement.
My grandparents found an 18.2 cubic feet fridge for a good price. When we looked at the floor model, I felt it was too big for just me and kept trying to convince them to look at another one – they didn’t oblige. Since they were paying for it, I didn’t argue much.
A few weeks after the fridge was set up, I returned from my mom’s house, three hours away, with some furniture she had given me. My grandparents came to the house to help me unload my truck. At some point, my grandpa began to lecture me about not putting my water pitcher in the fridge. He mentioned that it may not have fit in the old model, but this one was large enough, and scoffed that I had previously wanted a smaller fridge. I felt the tears, and there was no way to stop them; I ran outside hysterically crying and plopped down on my porch steps. My grandpa went to his truck, and I returned inside with my grandma.
I apologized for crying and explained that seeing the large fridge so empty just reminded me that I was alone.
“It’s not about the fridge, honey,” she said. “And you’re not alone. You have your animals, you have your friends, and you’re about to start a wonderful new job!”
She was right.
I was crying for uncertainty, I was crying for the end of a relationship that I didn’t think I should mourn because of its status; I was starting a new life and a new chapter, but I had held all of those emotions in.
March 2017: I stopped at the grocery store after work – that place I started three years ago with my new fridge – and I recalled this memory as I was trying to figure out where to put the hamburger. I laughed with the door wide open as I wondered if it’s time for a bigger fridge. But “it’s not really about the fridge.”