When my boy was born I suddenly found myself with a whole pile of married-lady friends. This was strange – only one of my friends was married at that time, and I had never thought of myself as the type who would hang out with all these smug domestic types.
Nevertheless, we would lunch at one another’s homes, and I would see with despair (and a fair bit of envy) that they owned their houses, that their furniture was new, that they served lunch on their wedding china, that they seemed adult in ways that I was not and might never be. They displayed their wedding pictures on side tables and had serving dishes, gravy boats, punch bowls, matching crystal. They talked about their husbands while I remained silent, they discussed vacation plans and minivans and part-time work, and I looked at my baby and wondered what would become of us, the two people so different from all the rest, the ones who were not like the others. Then I would go home to my shabby little rented house, with the furniture handed down by my parents, and the pots and pans I bought in the dollar store during my first year of university, and the stacks of books everywhere and the complete disregard for the proprieties of life, things like having your baby’s father stick around, or having a plan for your life, or having furniture that wasn’t from Ikea.
I thought to myself that it wasn’t fair, they had automatic life memberships in the Minivan Mafia while I had to snatch and beg for any crumb to keep me and my boy safe. They had all of this loveliness around them with no effort whatsoever, while what I had could, at its best, be described as “charm”.
Then I realized that I could do one of two things: I could complain and moan and feel sorry for myself that I didn’t have all this stuff that these folks had, or I could take things into my own hands. I decided that I would buy my own household things: the bonus would be that I didn’t have to accept anyone else’s idea of what was nice - I would only have myself to please.
So whenever I had a bit of extra cash, or when I saw a great bargain, I would buy myself an Unwedding present. A gift to myself, for staying free and single and being true to the person who didn’t want to get married, who would rather have books than a minivan any day, who wouldn’t know what to do with a gravy boat if it came up and parked itself in the driveway (never, to this day, have I made gravy, nor do I plan to). A gift for a single mother who wants her kid to value libraries above tropical vacations, and to know that good things come to those who work damn hard for them, and to see for himself that education and an independent spirit will take you places that marriage never, ever will.
Now I have my own house. I have a (mostly) decent car and two more degrees than I had when my boy was born. I have a lot more experience, and perspective, and maybe even a bit of wisdom. I have blue-and-white china that I love, and Le Creuset cast iron pots, and a good set of Henkel knives. Every piece I have I bought for myself, and each one brings me joy to use. (Have nothing in your home, said William Morris, that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.)
And here, ladies and gents, without further ado, is the latest of my Unwedding presents, the Willow pattern tea pot that I have wanted for a long time. I’ve never owned a tea pot before, and I smile every time I use it.