I have a few friends getting married this summer. Recently, I purchased some wedding gifts for them off of their wedding registries. I was happy to do it, considering I haven’t seen these people in years and probably won’t for many more. But they were, and are, in my life as friends, so the absolute least I could do was get them something they wanted from some store. Living here in Brazil, I am missing out on friends’ events: weddings, baby showers, births of their new humans. It’s hard to be away from home, and it’s times like this that make me realize I’m definitely going to be coming home at some point to live. Like I won’t be living abroad for my whole life.
Anyway, I got an email from a friend who I sent silverware to from off of her registry. Serving ware, I should say. In the e-mail, she wrote, “Who’d ever thought I’d give a shit about matching silverware?” And it’s true. Ten years ago, we (this friend and all the others) loved sleeping in tents and staying out all night at music festivals. Ten years ago, we went to concerts and bought hippie jewelry and were truly interested in patchouli as both an essential oil for the bodyand as fragrance for the home. We had parties up on hills overlooking the city of Burlington’s lights. We stayed out late walking on the dirt roads in the wee hours of the morning in Jericho, talking about “deep” issues. We sang 10,000 Maniacs songs together. We had “amazing” nights in fields. We braided hair and patched our clothes with bright swatches of fabric, and made things out of clay. This is no lie. This is what it’s like to grow up in Vermont.
And now, this friend, and the others who’ve entered the Twilight Zone of Adulthood are owning–and asking to own–matching silverware. When I was 18 and listening to Dylan and the Dead CDs, I couldn’t care less about the tools I ate food with. As long as it was food, and organic, and vegetarian, it was okay by me. And now? Silver in the mouth? Matching silverware, table linens for a party of twelve, salad spinners, cutting boards, fancy (i.e: expensive) knives, vases, espresso machines. It’s amazing how these people have grown up. The girl who had beads in her long hair now wants china with gold trim. The guy who starred on the soccer team wants 350-count Egyptian cotton sheets for a king-sized bed. It’s an impressive and funny change. Some of my friends I haven’t seen since graduation; looking at their registries make me curious about how they’ve led their lives and who they’ve become over the past ten years. It’s also an awakening of sorts. In my mind’s eye, they are the soccer players and flower children. They are the artists and the politicians of our youth. And now they are older, and giving a shit about the silverware.
I know my time might someday come and I’ll be thinking that the matching things of adulthood matter. It’s inevitable. Matching silverware and linens and color-coordinated dish towels probably do matter, and someday, when I grow up and am ready to have my belongings match, I’ll probably do it and think nothing of it. Matching belongings is the sign of uber-adulthood: if the forks match the spoons, and the pillows match the coffee table, we’re okay.
But I wonder what I will think when it finally happens to me? I imagine someday, turning to my fiance, and saying “But the ecru linen will match the bone china and the rug, sweetheart, while the sage won’t. So shouldn’t we register for the ecru rather than the sage?” And I imagine stopping mid-sentence and remembering how it was to feel bewildered by my friends’ gift registries. I will probably smile and think of this moment right now, sitting in my very un-matching and cluttered apartment, the cords to the computer and the speakers dangingly wildly about furniture I couldn’t care less about, my two separate sets of silverware that is, in fact, not silver at all, and sheets I would have purchased for myself back in college with bright yellow sunshine designs, and I will probably think that there is definitely something to be said for color coordination and matching dining ware. And in that moment of realization, I will say to myself, “My, how you’ve grown.” But until that moment happens, which I anticipate to be quite a while from now, I am satisfied to have nothing match and to need nothing but the essentials that will keep me alive and well and functioning in the world: a good book, some good music, a companion, and a purpose. I think I’m content with those things for now.