The seller’s market is the place to be in a capitalist society. Last year, when we were looking for a house, it was a seller’s market. Our realtor said he’d never seen inventory so low and staying so low. We found a domicile we liked, but it was older and had obviously (only after moving in) been neglected. The previous owners, it was clear, had simply let things go (and they were younger than us, and had no excuse). When we asked for a new roof they had flat-out refused. With no other options (our lease was about to expire) we agreed to take it on anyway. We’ve been having the roof done in installments—and if you’ve been getting the record levels of rain that Pennsylvania has, you know our decision was, in a literal way, short-sighted. Ah, capitalism!
So, just after I noticed the piles of sawdust that the web tells me are carpenter ants, the refrigerator died. Of course. I tried to keep cool. We don’t have what the overlords call “liquidity.” Our cashflow is dammed at the source, as it were. A new major appliance was not a welcome addition to the fixer-ups that appear nearly every day. The first warning was that my soy milk was room temperature when it splashed on the cereal yesterday. All of this made me reflect on how much we rely on our appliances, our modern conveniences. When talking to my mother later in the day, I realized that as recently as her generation not everyone had a refrigerator. You could live without one. You could also live without a dishwasher, believe it or not!
The whole episode of packing the food in ice sent me on a Calvino-esque reverie of what we keep in the refrigerator. There are foods that must be kept cool or they’ll spoil, foods that are better if they’re kept cool but can be left at room temperature, foods that you prefer to drink cold but can be kept anywhere, and items which are technically not food. Considering the state of our kitchen, there are also foods that you keep on top of the refrigerator because no amount of cupboard space is ever enough. As the carpenter ants make their free lunch of our porch, we have to throw away food for which we paid because an appliance has come to the end of its life cycle. And since it’s a holiday weekend we’ll pay for a more expensive replacement unit because it’s on a holiday sale. For unlike my soy ice cream, I lack liquidity.