Love is as close as the refrigerator door

When I was a girl, our refrigerator was stocked. Not just with food, but with memories.

My mother liked to collect magnets from places she had visited — and while it’s difficult to remember exactly from where and from when, I do distinctly recall a trail of experiences splattered like paint across the front of a series of refrigerator doors of my childhood.

It’s a tradition I’ve, without much serious intention, carried forward. It started when I moved in with my now-husband. He already had a few refrigerator magnets that predated me, but we began building a refrigerator of love of our own. The first addition was a magnet we found at a gift shop in Hoboken where we lived at the time.

We loved the quote so much we incorporated it into our wedding invitation.

Marcel Proust let us be grateful

A few weeks ago, after a bunch of dreams of messy houses, I realized my home was in need of attention. In the middle of mopping up the kitchen floor, I noticed how dirty, disorganized and jumbled our refrigerator had become. We had been mindlessly putting up A+ exams, beautiful art class drawings, and promotional magnets from every local business, from the hairdresser to Pinchi the clown, birthday party extraordinaire I don’t ever remember being entertained by.  I don’t have “before pictures,” but imagine a Leap Frog alphabet game scattered in more than 26 places; a Made in China set of Hebrew letters ready to be choked on by a visiting baby; and hidden beneath five field trip permission forms was the Marcel Proust quote.

I held it in my hands — saw how smudged and worn it had become in 13 years — but smiled knowing it remained. Intact, across continents and seas; still stuck to my refrigerator door.

I spent some time then sorting, throwing away, and putting the dusty alphabet letters in a bag to give to a friend whose children would use them — mine had grown too old for them while I wasn’t paying attention.

I filed away some papers, recycled others. I organized the promotional magnets in a big square on the hidden side of the fridge.

Afterwards, I pulled out the Marcel Proust quote — made it a centerpiece holding up a series of photographs that represented experiences we treasure, times and places … faces almost forgotten in the everyday rush of life.

I made love, once again, the focus of the refrigerator door. And said a quiet prayer that Proust’s words would continue to carry this family forward in 2014.

“Let us be grateful for people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Yes, our days, if only we are lucky, will still be filled with exams to study for, dentist appointments to run to, and permission slips to sign, but somehow, in spite of it and in light of it, let us be grateful for the people who make us happy.

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9 thoughts on “Love is as close as the refrigerator door

  1. Lovely post Jen 🙂 We can’t have magnets anymore because I have a pacemaker that dislikes them with a vengeance but instead have a post-it wall with all sorts of notes, quotes and memoirs on. I just might add this quote to it – if you don’t mind. Such beautiful words and such a true sentiment 🙂

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  2. How I love this post. When my kids were little, I used to also attach everything via magnet to my refrigerator, too. Whenever we traveled, I picked up a magnet and made it into a little mini collection full of memories where we’d been. But the new refrigerator came and I vowed to keep it clean and less cluttered as I hoped to make my house more zen (that hope came and went). Nevertheless, I miss that time of my life and how exciting it was to slap anything and everything up.

    I also adore your Proust quote and am applying it to all aspects of my life, including social media, moving into 2014. I’ve faced recent health issues that have put everything, and then some, into perspective, and I’m grateful for writers (and true friends) like you for the inspiration.

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  3. I have finally gotten my act together in 2014. I have subscribed by email to blogs that I don’t want to miss. I couldn’t manage to always find them in my reader. So, here I am.

    And I’m so glad. Before I met MTM, I had a similar tradition of collecting magnets from trips. His minimalism did away with that, but I have slowly crept some back to the side of our fridge. I have several photos of our guide son there, and a magnet from the Camino de Santiago de Compostela that my friend Marie bought me when she walked the whole thing. In a way, it’s like your Proust magnet. I treasure it, even though anyone else would probably throw it away.

    I love that Proust quote. It is the perfect way to see others and to admit them into our lives. Happy 2014, Jen.

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