On the way up and down from New Jersey to visit the family, dead and alive, in Baltimore, we pass many more points of memory. I do drag ISHI by my old house where I grew up (or started the process, at least). That was self-limiting and affirming at the same time. These are my simple roots; that’s who I am, and that’s just fine.
But the reality is that even as I have come from a background of simplicity, I know that my tastes have become more rarefied with time. This was reinforced as we passed by that Melitta coffee factory. I clearly remember feeling grown-up, for a placeholder word, when we started using Melitta coffee instead of whatever the cheaper brand was. When we got married, we started using a glass percolator, which I thought must be better than the stainless version that my in-laws used. And then, we moved to a drip coffee maker, probably Mr. Coffee. And then the search for perfection continued to move on a slow pace, or that’s my recollection now. And so, at some point, what would have been perfectly acceptable for us once was no longer. More so, it would have been something to turn our noses from, or is it from which we would turn our noses?
And as with coffee was wine. And other things. What would have sufficed before was not any longer good enough. In terms of how I pretend to want to simplify my life, this is an significant reality lesson. Champagne tastes, beer budget? And what are the lessons we’ve given to our kids?
Here’s the lesson my mother taught me back in the 60’s. At the time, there were a few popular clothing styles for kids like me, preppy, pre-Ralph Lauren. This was Villager, John Meyer, along with Pappagallo shoes. I’m not imagining the RL link. Max Raab, the designer, created this on purpose, according to this New Yorker article:
“I know women better than they know themselves ” Raab said in a New York Times interview. “The Waspy girls all want that country look, and the Jewish girls want to look like the Wasps. I knew I had a winner.”
There were little boutiques where you could buy them. One strong memory I have was going with my mother to one of these in Baltimore, with the clear instructions that we would look for things on sale only; it would not be worthwhile to pay full price, and those items on sale would be good enough for now. Did I give you this value, kids? I’m afraid I forgot to apply that lesson. Or at least if some of you did get it, some are already accustomed to the champagne. Is good taste wasted on the young?
Here’s another memory. When we first were married, there certainly were no online registries. If there were store registries at all, we did not participate. So most of our wedding gifts were checks, and then our mothers helping us figure out what it meant to have a household. My MIL did enjoy her champagne taste, for sure, and she probably did her best at imposing that on us. So, we had sterling silver for 12, but had no glasses. We drank out of our earthenware coffee cups.
What were we drinking? That I don’t remember. What were we aiming to drink? Well, at least To Life!