We sat in the middle of the open windowed living room of our cabin.
Gretchen gets up to get a drink, “The fridge isn’t cold,” she says.
I look at her, then at my watch, it’s 9:45pm. I shrug my shoulders.
“We have to do something,” she says slightly panicked.
We’d spent the day at Costco getting food for the week, then prepping and cooking the food putting it into containers so that we’d be set up with great choices.
I looked at her again. It was late. I didn’t want to do anything.
“We can’t lose all this food,” she chimed with the intensity of each step we’d productively walked through that afternoon shopping for food at Natural Grocers and Costco.
“What can we even do?” I ask. I was already resolved to the loss and dealing with the rotten food later.
“We have to go get ice,” she says putting on shoes.
“But we don’t have a cooler,” I say out loud in rebuttal. I don’t want to move.
“We’ll figure it out,” she says adding, “Come on, we’ve got to get to Fresh Foods before it closes at 10pm!”
I get up from the couch, slip on some boots, and a light summer sweatshirt. It wasn’t even quite dark out yet. Summer solstice just happened two days ago.
We put Kona Rose in her kennel then jump into G’s car. The drive to Fresh Foods is less than 60 seconds. If we had walked it would’ve taken 3-5 minutes depending on our pace.
The parking lot is empty, but the Open sign is still up. We’re in luck that the store hasn’t closed early tonight.
“Do you want the car on?” G asks.
“Sure,” I say as she gets out to go pay for ice.
The transaction takes all of but two seconds and she’s back outside.
I roll down my window, “Do you want me to help you get the bags?”
Gretchen shakes her head, “No, I only got a few. I can get them.”
The trunk of her new car opens as she places the ice inside. She hops back into the passenger seat sitting right next to me.
“We’re so lucky they were still open!” she says.
I smile in agreeance.
We drive the 60 seconds back home. Park in the driveway, but pull in forwards because it’s too hard to back in in the dark. Both of us get out of the car and carry a bag of ice into the house. I go straight to the fridge to start mitigating some of the damage. Gretchen goes to let Kona Rose out so that she’s not cooped up in her kennel. I swing G a dim eyed look.
“What?” she asks.
I’d have left Kona in her kennel. We were about to have all the food from our fridge strewn out on the floor and adding another distraction like Kona sniffing around is not really what we need right now.
I don’t tell Gretchen any of this but swallow it anyway and just try to keep Kona out of my range and out of the food.
Reaching into the fridge one by one I start pulling each item out. I grab the mayonnaise and toss it into the garbage even though it’s still a little chilled. Both G and I do not take chances on mayonnaise anymore. One time G got sick on Easter Sunday because of bad mayonnaise, and another time I got sick while G was out of town at Big Sur, from mayonnaise.
I pull the containers of prepped lunches for our week out of the fridge. We’ve only got one container that we can use to pour ice into to hopefully salvage some of this food. The prepped lunches are a top priority. They are exactly what helps both of us remember to eat during the day, and eat well.
I toss the milk, the cream, the salad dressing, the ketchup and the mustard. All replace-able items and all sitting a little too close to the memories of borderline funky mayonnaise.
Kona starts nudging into my side trying to get into bits and parts of food I’m trying to organize and salvage. I turn to look at G squinting with dim eyes again. See? I ask her in my mind. See why we should’ve left Kona in her kennel? I point out only to myself giving Kona a little nudge so that she’ll stay back out of the food.
I stand up because leaning over into the mini fridge starts getting pretty uncomfortable.
“Can you take over?” I ask Gretchen.
She gets crouched down in front of the fridge without saying anything and starts putting more food into another bucket. I begin opening a bag of ice to pour into the first bucket I filled. We are using the vegetable drawer like a bucket and hoping that keeping the fridge closed for the rest of the night will keep the ice from melting.
We throw away a ton of stuff that we don’t need. Finally getting the prepped meals, meat and vegetables into spaces in the fridge to hopefully stay cold ‘til morning.
I sit back down on the couch. Gretchen sits in her spot at the far end of the couch. Kona sits in the middle.
“What’s up with the fridges?” I ask.
Gretchen looks at me wide eyed. She knows exactly what I’m talking about. The fridge in our trailer has never worked and we’ve almost had it for a year and we’ve had mobile technicians come out on four separate occasions to try to diagnose the problem. Which meant we spent the entire winter of 2017-18 with our food in a cooler. We’ve been dealing with coolers, and ice, and really inconvenient ways of trying to keep our nutrition in check for the last 9 months.
“I don’t know,” she says.
Sometimes at this point we dive into conversation about ‘what it could be’, ‘what it might mean’, and ‘what we should do.’ Gretchen and I can spend hours talking about these things.
“Let’s try not to assume anything,” I say. I’ve learned as much from our years of conversations that while speculation is interesting and fun at times, it rarely provides honest answers. Sometimes answers or reasons just tend to show up. And sometimes those answers or reasons tend to change when other situations or things show up.
I continue, “Let’s just acknowledge and notice that this is happening. Two fridges. This year. Period. And let’s just see what happens without trying to put any sort of meaning on this yet.”
Gretchen nods in full understanding. We have speculated enough to know that our ideas rarely hit the mark and that really just watching life unfold is sometimes the best vantage point.
Early the next morning we head out to Double Creek to pick up the two coolers that we were so excited to put away months ago after using all winter. On our way back to the coast we stop at Baker’s General Store to buy another six bags of ice. The coolers are ready.
We get back to the beach cabin to dive right into emptying the fridge. The food has stayed cold in our makeshift overnight bins!
Mom shoots a text to the family, “Anyone up for a beach day at the Gulcana Access?”
I look at the message and put the phone down without responding. We’re still in the mix of transferring food from fridge to cooler and determining what the hell actually happened to the fridge even though we’re trying not to assume anything!
We unplug the fridge in hopes that a quick defrost and reset might solve the problem. I become exasperated at all these continual ‘first world problems’ we keep running into. It’s been an entire year chock full.
Conversations about the “problems” or “adventures” as we like to coin them are minimal. It’s hard to talk about the annoying, frustrating, mundane things of life when a lot of people in the world have big serious issues or are fighting for their very own lives every hour of the day.
And yet, creating space to air out the “problems” has been a move I’ve had to learn to incorporate. I used to completely ignore and diminish my own problems, feelings, hurts, and issues. This type of internal suppressing created havoc on my system all throughout my twenties.
So, while it is still hard to talk about the mundane issues I’m dealing with because they are “first world problems” and nothing compared to what others have to deal with… I still try to talk about it these days.
I text the family back, “We’re dealing with fridge issues again. Had to run out to Double Creek early this morning to get our coolers because our fridge went out late last night.”
I leave my explanation with the facts. Exactly what happened. Not how frustrated I am. Not what I think it means to keep having fridges go out on us. Not even speculation into Why… I just share what happened.
“Oh no!” comes back from my mom.
Five minutes later a text comes from Kevin, “I heard your guys fridge went out. I might have a replacement for you. Interested?”
After reading the text I look at Gretchen, “Holy sh*t! Kev might have an extra fridge!”
“Of course he does,” G says reminiscing on all the ways that Kev has come through for us in clutch moments throughout these last six months.
Kev texts again, “I can come pick you up in five minutes. Let’s go look at the fridge and see if it’ll work for you…”
Thoughts of, Will it be big enough? Is it the right color? Will it open the right way? Don’t come. We are only in need of a fridge to store food, the rest of the specifics don’t matter now.
Amazingly enough, we pick up the fridge. It is white just like all the other appliances in our kitchen. It is the exact depth of our short counter. It’s not too tall and doesn’t completely cover the window it’s in front of. It opens and swings to the right creating the perfect feng shui move to flow with the rest of the kitchen.
In short, the emergency fridge is the PERFECT match to our kitchen in the cabin.
Lesson: Had I not shared just the basics of what was happening in our life, and tried to muscle through independently like I always do, like G and I always do because we are two peas in a pod when it comes to the way we handle life, no one would’ve ever known about the predicament we were in.
Sometimes being vulnerable is hard. Sometimes it feels tedious like maybe I’m complaining a bit here or perhaps even being negative. And sometimes, it’s just sharing the facts. Sharing where you are. Sharing what is happening. And sharing what you’re trying to do… And then being open, which I’d call listening, to the answers or solutions that life might be presenting you.
Receptivity comes with vulnerability and openness. But let’s be honest, it’s hard to share our faults or the shitty stuff that happens in life, especially when it’s a first world problem. Like hello, just be grateful you have a fridge at all, even if it’s broken! Not a convenient situation. But owning it and sharing the situation with loved ones, not out of ‘Oh poor me, look at this, help me, or fix this for me.’ More so out of, here’s what’s happening, just letting you know…
This sharing provided an opportunity for us to see and feel the magic of connection. My mom, upon sharing her desire to go to the beach on a sunny day, received an opportunity to share the information of our fridge predicament with my step-dad Kevin, who just so happened to have a perfectly fine fridge that he’d cleaned several times available to help us.
“Wow, Kev is like a real every day hero,” Gretchen says as he’s pulling out of our driveway after dropping off the new to us fridge.
I smile at her, nod, and say, “Yes. Yes he is.”