What happens after the kids are in bed on a weeknight? Well, if you’re as lucky as I am, sometimes you and your friends text each other about really important things. And sometimes these things involve the kitchen, since it’s a room in which we spend a great deal of time each and every day preparing food for our people and cleaning up the trappings of this process. This photo is a composite of texts that crossed within minutes; the left image was captured from a magazine and sent by my friend, Carmen, and the right-hand shot was taken by me and sent back to her a few minutes later:
Another night, these two photos (left one sent by my friend, Ellen, and the one on right sent by me) crossed space at EXACTLY the same moment, at 9:08 pm one cold night last month in the space of that magic hour during which no children are awake but we still are:
The context of these two conversations was, for the former, a shared appreciation of blue Dawn and curiosity about a new product and, for the latter, a decision to upgrade the can opener found in the mountain home Ellen’s family purchased with many furnishings included (this rusty relic among them). What’s most important here isn’t the nature of these discussions, really, but the camaraderie and connection they represent. In a world desperate to find mending, to grow past all of its social and moral disintegration, if we want to see a brighter day built on unity and progress rather than discord and stagnation, we need these interpersonal synchronicities, however small they seem. We need our coterie of like minds to anchor our heads and our hearts while the wheels of society are spinning and struggling to say affixed on what is decidedly a very fractured axle.
When people say, “It’s the small stuff” or “It’s the little things”, what they’re actually saying is “These things might seem relatively insignificant, but they’re really important.” Discussions about dish soap and can openers: these matter more than meets the eye in life’s scatterplot schematic. You can see the text and understand the context, but appreciating the subtext is where the power lies. Face value is worth precious little because often what seems little is so precious. Presentation is impecunious in comparison to the deep coffers of representation.
When friends send each other pictures of cleaning agents and kitchen gadgets in the same moment, this is connection in a time when so many connections have been uncoupled and disjointed and interrupted, when the scaffolding of a support system has been kicked out from underneath so many people whose platform of stability relied on it. I am grateful for these moments, for my people who show up in big ways and also small ways that are bigger than they seem. I wish everyone could count themselves so fortunate as to have a network of strong and significant souls to brighten our phones with texts about soap and tools, to brighten our existence by virtue of theirs. May more people find their ark to buoy them through this maelstrom, may they help each other find and hold fast to the shore, may they behold with grateful wonder the storm they were borne in on from the safety of each others’ company, and may they shine a spotlight toward the horizon as a beacon for others alone and adrift.