My dishes don’t match. If you open my cupboard, you’ll see stacks of mismatched plates in a patchwork of colors, often in pairs. When I find something I really like, I might pick up 3 or 4, but mostly it’s pairs. Bowls are stacked in precarious towers, their odd sizes and shapes never nesting well, but it makes choosing a cereal bowl an adventure. (If my kids ate cereal, which they don’t, and if I did, which I don’t)
I think this started with my first apartment in Capitola, CA- it was one of the first tiny fences of “supposed to” that I can recall kicking down. My roommate was the OCD daughter of a Beach Boy, and I won’t go into what a mess that ended up being, but I learned two things living in that seaside loft: Never clean a kitchen floor with Comet, and matching things is overrated.
I like being able to chose the vessel for my food based on how I’m feeling any given moment. I have pretty blue flowered plates from England, terra cotta from Portugal, miso bowls from Japan, whitewear from Germany, chartreuse bowls from Spain, blue speckled stonewear from Poland, and transferware from Italy, France and England. There are a lot of white pieces in interesting shapes and sizes, and blue and green are more heavily represented than other colors.
My flatware and glasses are also quite a garden of choices. This used to drive my mom insane when she would visit, and actually the only sets of matched things I own came from her as a gift on a visit. I went along with it. It was nice for a while to have a full set of plates, cups and silverware- but one day I stood at my cupboard and thought “This isn’t me… I kind of liked that quirky part of me…” And so I got out the boxes I’d packed away of all my pretty plates and mixed them in with the stacks of American Gibsonware.
The one exception: my wedding china. When it was time, and I was wandering around Macy’s with the little barcode scanner trying to pick things for an imagined life, I wanted to register for ten different china patterns. They lady wouldn’t let me. More than anything I wanted to scan one of each 5-piece place setting that caught my fancy, but the outcry from family and the wedding machine was too great, and I caved. I picked Lenox Federal Platinum– a conservative, beautiful, timeless pattern that was sensible and lovely and… so not me. But so help me, I have service for ten, including the recommended salad plate and serving pieces. Maybe someday I’ll have a chance to use it again. Right now, it’s packed in bubble wrap and stacked carefully in a dry corner of the leaky Little House garage.
Today would have been my dozenth wedding anniversary. I’m not sad, not anymore. It just is what it is- it happened, and its a part of me. While its not a gaping wound anymore, it seems apropos to at least nod in respect for what was, and for what now lives soundly and forever in the past… along with matching dishes.