old mother cupboard

In ALL, JUDY BLUME MOMENTS by Stephanie Klein4 Comments

There’s something magical about cupboards.  After school, I used to open them, unsure of what I wanted.  It was habit, really.  Surely there was an answer, or comfort, in the cupboard after a cold and often empty day.  Usually that’s tea with actual biscuits and clotted cream.  Let’s be honest, though, nothing about my mother’s house was clotted.  Still, I’d search, my hands waiting on the small nobs of the wooden doors as my brain decided something.  Usually, I’d find solace behind another door: the fridge.  I’d have to get passed the condiments and salad dressings she stored in the actual shelves of the door (though on occasion, I’d find a nearly empty bag of chocolate chips from her latest baking stint).  Abatement  was usually laid to bare in the dairy drawer.  I can’t believe our refrigerator actually had a drawer for dairy.  As a child I always thought it was wrong.  Gosh, it’s not like the milk fits in there.  I didn’t think about dairy as a solid, the way steam and ice don’t really seam like water.  Still, the cupboard was the go-to move.  It was The Cosby Show, Alice in the kitchen making pork chops for Peter, and somehow Tinkerbell’s glitter dust in a jar of paprika.  Cupboards are comforting.

Something magical happens behind closed doors.  Cupboards, wardrobes, and the doors of homes.  I love seeing what strangers have in their shopping carts (who the fcuk eats canned clams?  Oh, that type of guy who wears orange and has a mustache), toting items to their homes to find places for things behind more doors.

I love looking into windows, seeing bookshelves and chandeliers.  I like to imagine their lives behind their cashmere throws, seeing their imported teas beside their dented discount cans of string beans.  It’s like trying to figure out a person based on the contents of her handbag or bedside table… or blog.

I guess we’re all behind doors in a larger sense, but I’m not obsessed with larger sense… just the little things.


  1. Aha, so I'm not crazy for staring at strangers and imagining their stories.

    I'm always mildly bothered by closed doors of cupboards. I have to open them up to investigate, even if I openned it a while ago. I always want to see what changed when I wasn't looking. Though sadly, checking over and over didn't ever magically make cookies appear :-D

  2. When I moved into my first apartment, it featured the same type of narrow cabinet that we used as the "spice cabinet" at home – and in the same place: left side over the stove.

    When you opened Mom's spice cabinet, a blended aroma of spices and wood would be drawn out with the sweep of the door. That smell was home, and in an effort to re-create the "magic behind closed doors" that inhabited Mom's spice cabinet, I bought spices that I had no intention (or ability) to use. I HAD to try, but soon found the one ingredient I lacked was time. I moved those spices from apartment to condo to the house I've been in for 10 years now. Now, some 16 years in the making, the spices and the cabinet have done their magic. (Think it has something to do with the wood: Early 60s ply.)

    A second thing that makes Old Mother's Cupboard better than your own… Pull out a box of graham crackers; one appears as if loaded in from the back. The magic's gone when you have to put the items on your OWN shopping list.

    Pardon the blog clog today.

  3. Funny, that's the same place that OUR spice cabinet was growing up…same smell too. Though that's also where we kept the dog's treats, so it had an additional beefy aroma to it.

    Do you also open up people's batheroom medicine cabinets at parties or the first time you stay over? That's turned into almost a cliche by this point, but I still feel the compulsion.

  4. Just catchin' up. Been a while. Fascinating imagery once again. You have everyone recalling their days of youth opening their own cupboards. I've said it before, *that's* powerful.

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