The blue coats the white like the water coats the earth, covering it with beauty. The China is about to get thrown away, the Liberation China I thought it. My mother bought it after she moved out of her old life. Her old life most would consider hell, 3 jobs, 2 full time, 1 part-time. Learning at college full time and raising 3 boys. She bought the china to feel special, to make her life even more special then it was. I loved the way the images sucked you in, a man in a coolie hat fishing, his face a blur among the deep blue. The way the pole arched down as though a fish was forever caught in its hook of menace, almost free but the line keeping it on a leash. Stuck looking at his world from the inside out. My eyes trace along to the cups a whale jumping out looking from his world to ours, the lines of his body look like the waves he will never return to, his tail flicking out behind him, a protest to the winds that blow around it. A boat below, the simple sailor’s arms raised in shock of the fantastic beast above them. Then comes the bowl, another part of the china set. it’s simple shape giving way to the long fields sculpted around it. The trees so full in shades of blue, birds twittering with worms hanging from their mouths. And my eyes fade on the sun, despite being made of blue and white it shines brighter than a thousand of itself.
I am drawn to this object, not unlike a moth is to a flame. It is a piece of history in my family’s tree, one that was about to be thrown away. I saved it, knowing that one day I will enjoy it greatly. I remember looking at it as a child, my large clumsy hands kept far down at my sides. It was always so high up on the shelves, a sapphire kept away from peasants unworthy of its sight, resting upon a mountain it’s shimmer always reminding them it was there. There was always a single day one of the biggest dishes was brought down, to bear Thanksgiving. Beets, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, sweet ham, and divine turkey. And somehow the platter always held my attention. It’s crisp blues and whites reminding me of dress whites my brothers wear when they come home from long months at sea. This object has face value to others because it’s nice china. But for me I feel drawn to it, it’s majesty unmatched.
It was a long weekend, the year of 2018, during the summer. One of those weekends that is spent cleaning. The heat from the sun-baked through the house heating the inside like a pot set to boil. The only reprieve was the rooms on the far side of the house untouched by the sun. that included the back room we use for storage. My mom and I were going through the room, the smell of cardboard boxes and dust permeating my nostrils. The musk of age and time revolving around my nose, keeping me grounded to where I was. The burning season, we were throwing stuff away, intense physical labor during the hottest part of the year. I lift up yet another box, preparing to go out into the sun. Its spiny daggers of light and heat felt even in shade. I step into the light and it feels like my skin it’s ripping itself apart to escape the light. I toss the box into our truck and step back into the house, the internal temperature hardly cooler than outside. My mom is about to hand me a box from the kitchen, it contents rattling. “What’s in this?”
“China,” she replied unaware. I open it up and I am taken aback. It’s my favorite china. The cool blues peer up at me like a dog whose owner is holding a bowl of food. I ask my mom if I can keep it, she says of course. So we keep it in the box, it’s beauty perserved.
School has started for about two weeks now, my mind slowly getting sharpened from it’s presence in my mind. My mom is driving the headlights carving a path through the darkness weighing down on the car. The inside smells of some rotting vegetable, probably because my sister left her food in the car. The air up this high is dry, mimicking all of California as it’s dryness claws its way into my mouth. The headlights flashes back at us, another mile marker flies by, swallowed once again by the ever hungry darkness. My mom asks me the usual, ‘how is my day’, ‘why’. I tell her I am writing about her china. She smiles her smile as faint darkness in her eye as she recalls all that’s happened in her life. When she speaks her voice is clear, a shout down through a valley.
“I bought that china when I moved to my new house with your brothers. I bought them to make me and your brothers special, this beautiful china matching how I felt, Despite being a single mother of three boys, working 3 jobs and going to school. This china set let me have independence, it wasn’t just china, it was something more. Your brother Robert also liked the china, the plates especially. When they all broke except one he would always want that one. I am glad you want them.” We pull into our driveway pebbles shattering under the 1.5 tons of weight put on them. I am deep in thought as I go through the routine, getting mail, feeding goats, letting my dog out. I am thinking could I feel the independence, something I am seeking in my life.