My Boxes of Fiestaware

I don’t remember when my mom gave me my first set of Fiestaware dishes. It was probably somewhere in the blur of “the grad school years,” although I remember spending most of those years eating every meal from a pink bowl painted to look like a kitten, including a meal I called “burrito bowl of death,” which involved a frozen burrito, corn chips, cheese, and salsa, microwaved together into a steaming, noxious dinner substitute.

Now I have six complete sets of dishes, including additional Fiestaware accoutrements like a teapot and matching salt and pepper shakers, and they sit in boxes in my closet, waiting for a home.

The last place I lived, I literally slept on the floor. Now I have a bed but no kitchen. I’ve culled my possessions to the bare minimum, the new definition of adulthood, but I still have these boxes of Fiestaware that I carry with me from one place to another, hoping someday that I’ll have a proper home in which to use them, the way Ma finally made the decision to unpack her china shepherdess in Little House on the Prairie.

Every time I move, another piece or two breaks. This happens regardless of how well I pack them, although to be fair I have never been particularly good at packing. I wrap them in towels and newspaper and hope for the best, and arrive at my new living situation with my collection a little bit smaller, like my fantasy of a fully-equipped apartment that is simultaneously affordable.

Of course, it will be easy enough for me to fill in the missing pieces through eBay or Amazon or whatever, once I get a place of my own that has both a kitchen and a bed, maybe a place that has a separate bedroom with a door that shuts, maybe a place where I can invite people over and they don’t have to sit on my bed like we’re still in grade school. That dream — the one where you open a door and find out that your apartment has all these other rooms you never knew about, and they’re all yours? I have that dream all the time.

Someday that dream will come true. That’s what I have promised myself — that one day my Fiestaware dishes and I will have a proper home, and that I will fully be able to use this gift that my mother gave me.

Photo: Elly Jonez