Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The strange solace of my fridge

I moved into a new apartment a couple of months ago. I HATE moving. Perhaps my loathing can be attributed to my childhood - I've moved house no fewer than 17 times in my life (sometimes this also involved moving country), and while my sister and mother seem to take to it like ducks to water, I go into an immediate decline now at the thought of having to pack anything. I can't stand the confusion and inconvenience of packing. It's a major frustration that for weeks both before and after one moves, one invariably can't find the thing one wants when one needs it. And, to add to the problems, I was moving into a smaller apartment and therefore needed to downsize!

My new apartment needed appliances, and that was another irritation. No fridge and no stove. So I went off to Courts to buy these necessities on hire purchase (Just as an aside, NEVER buy something at Courts on hire purchase unless you absolutely must! And if you do, pay off the loan in the shortest amount of time possible. I was stunned to learn that if I had chosen to pay off my appliances in 3 years, they would have ended up costing me nearly 3 times the original price!) and planned my moving day to coincide (roughly) with the arrival of said appliances.

Moving day arrives and it's hell. Whereas I'd been fooling myself into believing that I was organised and prepared, the movers arrived and it quickly became clear how not ready I was. Bits and pieces all over the place, not in boxes or bags. Chests of drawers not emptied; clothes everywhere! My boyfriend and I (with the help of the movers) loaded most of my possessions onto the truck (along with my brand-spanking new fridge and stove - well, at that point they really still belonged to Courts) and made several trips up and down to the new apartment, offloading and filling up, offloading and filling up, until the new place was a ram-packed shambles, and the old place a less ram-packed shambles.

The first things I unpacked were my fridge magnets and postcards. And with mountains of stuff everywhere I turned, I set about quietly arranging my magnets, pictures and postcards on my fridge. With everything else that needed to be done, I'm sure my boyfriend thought this a ridiculous indulgence. And he was probably right. But I needed to do it because it was the most direct and easy route to claiming the new apartment as my home that I could take. It would take me months to hang up the paintings, organise my books and move all my clothes in. I didn't actually cook anything in my kitchen for days. But every time I passed the fridge, with my collection of friends and memories, I smiled and knew that regardless of the shambles around me I was home.

So let me give you a tour of my fridge door.

There's the brilliant bottle opener shaped like a hippie flower my Mum gave me a few years ago. There's the invitation my boyfriend designed to an exhibition called "Rockstone and Bootheel" which opens in Connecticut in mid-November (contemporary Caribbean art - shameless plug!); there's a funny magnet my Mum got me in Paris - a bag of saucisson and baguette and a bottle of wine - a bit tacky, but there you go. I have pictures of my closest friends and family; Nicola just before she embarked on her life-changing trip to South America. There's a magnet of a Holland house (including tiny tulips) that I bought in Amsterdam when I went with my sister and her friend Susie and thanked the Gods that I never fell off the bike even though there were many times I could have and one time when Alan did! I also have on the fridge a little replica of a decorated wheelbarrow from Costa Rica, where I convinced myself to whizz down three kms of zip lines with my friend Rachel trying something I never imagined I would. There's an invitation to one of those seminal events that happened here in Trinidad: the series of contemporary art exhibitions and installations that comprised the very ambitious "Galvanise". And sundry shoe magnets that I was given during my reign as the Imelda Marcos of my family. (My sister recently usurped this position with her 20 pairs of flip-flops stored in order of colour!)

I moved into my new apartment in September. Within days I had released a film which won an award; within weeks my father died of lung cancer. In such dizzying and overwhelming times, my fridge was a strange source of solace to me - a collage of memories and loved-ones, and a promise of new experiences.


  1. Congrats. Didn't realise you won an award for Solitary Alchemist.

  2. Congrats on moving into your new place Mariel, and welcome to the world of blogging. You guys really have moved A LOT. :-)

    I was so sorry to hear about your dad... I know there are no words...

    Congratulations on your award (I didn't get to see it, but I hope you're going to release on DVD?)


  3. Lovely.

    Your frige door does tell a story, i believe. like my magnet from the Canadian Rockies....biting cold in the middle of August. :-D

    I read the piece written about your Dad. I'm sorry for your loss, but he does live on in you. And yes, never take anything on hire purchase; it's like selling your blooming soul!

    Congrats on the film.


  4. Hi folks - so mice to see your comments, so I know I'm not talking to a great nothing out there! Thanks also for the thoughts on Daddy. I love a fridge magnet, I do!

    Nicole, I'm thinking of doing a limited release of the documentary on DVD for Christmas. I'll be taking orders. Should I put you down for one? ;-)