I was at dinner tonight with a dear, dear, kind-of-newly-engaged friend ... the kind of friend who knowing I had had a crazy day at work, had beer cheese dip hot on the table for when I walked the door. And had told the waiter of my Monday misfortune, prompting him to graciously provide us with gratis 2-for-1 beers ... good friend, good food, and 4 hours later I made my way home to my sweet sleepy husband. Most of our conversation flowed around these extraordinary men in our lives, men who fell for us despite our flaws and many weaknesses, who epitomize strength when they have none of their own to give, and who somehow manage to stabilize our fluctuating feminine hearts.
We wandered to weddings, and hand-me-down furniture, and a brief foray into basketball that concluded with our mutual tepid feelings toward the much-too-fast-paced sport.
At some point in our lovely discussion, however, we started talking about dishwashers.
My husband is the best dishwasher I know. I say that with utmost respect and gratitude for a man who married a girl who knows how to dirty a dish or two.
Or twenty. On an easy night.
Many nights, the single most romantic thing my husband can do for me is clean the kitchen ... and wiping down the counters is a once-or-twice-a-week bonus that makes me beam. He's such a winner.
The dishwasher is a funny thing, though. It is a meeting place for family philosophy, a point of occasional contention and debate. It is something for which we both hold a measured amount of responsibility, and thus does not fall squarely within my husband's kitchen-cleaning domain.
I was raised in a family that used the dishwasher as a plate-polisher ... whether it was simply my dad being my dad or it really would ruin the septic tank if we put unrinsed dishes and/or anything larger than a plate in the dishwasher, I will never know.
Price's family, on the other hand, used the dishwasher freely, stacking any number of dishes (of all sizes), mostly unrinsed, into their frequently-run appliance. We ran our dishwasher a few times a week at most for a family of four; our little family of 2 now runs it at least every other day.
Our family philosophies meet, fall, combine, and rebuild at the dishwasher. I remember the first time I started cleaning a plate to put in the dishwasher and the confused look on Price's face when he didn't understand why I was washing the dish to go in the dishwasher. Equally as shocked was I when he put a large glass baking pan into the dishwasher ... "you aren't supposed to do that," I said. "Why not?" he replied, indicating the dishwasher-safe logo embossed on the bottom. I had no reply.
My dishwasher philosophy has become much less rigid over the past year and a half ... though I still cringe when my dad comes over, fearing that he will peek inside and wonder where he ever went wrong. And Price has changed too ... I can convince him often enough that getting the one large colander in the dishwasher is not nearly as efficient as washing it by hand and using it's large amount of space for several plates and bowls.
It's a process, as is this whole crazy mess of a marriage. Each day we find new habits, quirks, and old family practices. And each day we fight, fall, and forgive. And slowly we'll start to build our own traditions, dish by dish, load by load, appliance by appliance.