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Today I made another step into the world of adulthood: I bought a set of dishes.

Though I’ve been in my own apartment for nigh six months now, I’ve been using my roommate’s dishes. Now that she’s trotting off to Hungary, I decided it was time. So I shopped. I started online, but was quickly overwhelmed by all the colors. I wondered back and forth and back and forth through the Target aisles. I looked and looked through World Market, sad at the small number of options. Despairing of ever eating on anything nicer than a paper plate again, I asked my mom.
She told me to choose wisely, since dishes could follow a person around for many years. Consider the blue fruit plates from my early years that still sit in our cabinet today. (Thanks for the added pressure.) She then told me to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and handed me a coupon.

Then I found them.
The dishes.

I know that I am now well on my way to growing up because of the giddiness I felt as the cashier wrapped up my plates. (I used to feel this way about plastic ponies… What happened?!) I drove them carefully home, avoiding bumps and going quite slow.

My mother’s words and my girlish giddiness combined to form a (somewhat silly) sentimental ode. An ode to my new dishes. (I’ve got to get out more.)

An Ode to Thee, Dishes

You sit in tissue paper, so polished and new
I can’t help but wonder, What fate awaits you?

You will be there, for sure, for my senior spring:
Quick dinners and sleepy breakfasts
A great soapy monsoon, cleaned by Myrtle’s moaning, rumbly tune
At parties, charades nouns will rest in your bright green bowl

Will you go with me to Austin, Houston, or Dallas?
We’ll take the hospitality of RMR into graduate school
And then, someday, will my children be enthralled by your delicate patterns?
Or will they laugh that your beauty is “so the two-thousands”?

Oh, dishes, to the food you will serve:
Salad and steak and potatoes and pie
Chicken and soup and broccoli and cake
To the underdone and burnt food you will certainly hold:
I’m sorry, I must try to learn!
And then I’ll revert to hot pockets-
I hope you look good in slightly burnt cheese.

The Lord uses mysterious tools.
I thus ask, Lord, with a smile, that you bless these dishes:
To the conversations held over hot apple cider
To the burnt tongues and laughter
To the comfort of mashed potatoes
To families of friends around a table
To a summer watermelon and a winter turkey
To the nourishment of bodies and souls
Use them to teach me hospitality
And to welcome a Stranger, amen.

Oh dishes, it must, but how will it end?
After many years of faithful service,
or moving into your first home?
Will it be the terrors of many moves
or arms laden with too much
or left in a scorching oven
or at the hands of a careless child
or subject to some experiment…

Smashed into two
or two thousand pieces
To become just a memory
(And a blog entry)
Forever in my heart.

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We’ve named our dishwasher.
Meet Myrtle.
She moans.

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I do believe tonight marks a rite of passage: the first party in the first apartment.

We went to the grocery store and bought “real” groceries–things like raw meat, spaghetti sauce, velveeta, tortillas, and eggs–rather than the dorm staples of Cokes and granola bars.
We hung pictures on the walls. They were actual, framed pictures that we hung with actual nails in the walls, instead of that annoying 3M tack.
We vacuumed, cleaned the counters, moved furniture, cooked the meat, and made queso.*

Oh, and what a party it was. The three roommates, a new graduate, and new college freshmen on the eve of the first day of class. We joked about our rival school and talked about moving to Texas. My roommates and I met and laughed with their faculty advisor, a wonderful man full of life and the Baylor spirit.
My roommate and our friend hung out on the dining room floor playing Set, Slaps, and telling tales of high school antics and college floods.
Several hours later, we all decided it was time for the end-of-summer watermelon. We called some friends over and stood on the back porch, legs and arms and chins running with juice like a five-year-old. I tried to spit seeds with the best, but it was clear who the true champions are.

And now, the guests have gone home and the doors are closed for the night as the campus prepares to return to school. I sit and marvel at the joy of bringing people together for food, simple games, and innocent laughter. What hospitality this place enables! A recent blog entry (here) reminded me of the simple joy and service of an open heart and an open home. Countless stories and admonitions in the Bible urge us to welcome strangers, to seek out the hurting, to give food and water to the hungry and thirsty. And so, this small apartment will host parties and late night talks and early morning breakfasts and everything in between as we seek to live with and love those whom Christ has given us.

*Which my spell check thinks should be “quest.”

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