Why, I ask myself, is it so hard to say good-bye to an old pot? I know why, actually, but I still keep mulling over it because it strikes me as odd to be sad over a cheap, 25-year-old aluminum pot.
On a recent morning I found it in the fridge, where it always resides when I’ve made a big pot of chili that we can’t finish in one dinner, and one of the handles was broken off. Nobody confessed to the crime, so chances are it simply came off from old age. After all, 25 years is a long time for a pot from Woolworth’s. My handyman son assures me that there’s no way to fix it, and using potholders to lift that one side where the holder broke off is proving dangerous, although I stubbornly tried that.
So I am sad over an old broken pot that I have to toss. First of all, there’s the hassle of buying a new pot that’s as ideal as the old one. What one is used to is always better than something new, in my opinion, anyway. But there’s also the loss of an old companion, and all the history that goes with it. This was the first pot my husband and I bought when we had arrived in the U.S. and lived in graduate student housing at the University of Chicago, and all we could afford was one pot. Plus you could make everything in that pot if you had to, even use it as a pan to fry schnitzel. There aren’t particular stories that go with this pot, just a general sense of history, of having been around.
This broken pot also has me smiling at myself because as a kid I used to make fun of my grandmother who kept an old pot made of even cheaper metal whose bottom was domed from all the gas heat it had endured. But she held on to it because it had been the first pot she’d had as a refugee after World War II. I didn’t appreciate that fully until I wrote my essay “Betty Crocker in Bavaria,” published a while ago in Natural Bridge.
So maybe I won’t toss this pot with the broken handle. Maybe there’s a way to repurpose it? As a plant holder on my porch in the summer? What do you think?