“Nah,” I said. “It’s just a dumb frying pan.”
By then, he knew me well enough not to shrug it off. “Why do I feel like there’s a story here?”
I hadn’t told anyone the embarrassing truth of the pans, but with him, the story poured out. “Over a decade ago,” I said, “my mother found a gorgeous new cookware set on sale at Macy’s. She was saving it for my wedding shower, or my sister’s, whichever came first. Because that hasn’t happened yet for either of us, the pans sat in my mother’s basement, mocking me every time I went down there. So last month, I finally took them.”
My mother hadn’t told me to take them — not because she didn’t think I deserved to, but because doing so felt like I was throwing in the towel for both me and my sister.
“Honestly, I’m not sure why I took them,” I said. “I thought I would feel empowered, but I just feel sad.” I looked at the ground as my eyes welled with tears. Blinking them away, I said, “Anyway, to use instead, I bought an overpriced, nontoxic pan I saw on Instagram, and you just delivered it.”
Dave stood quietly for a moment, as if working out a complicated math problem. “I had a dream the other night that the world ended,” he said, “but I survived. I know that’s a lousy thing to say given what’s happening, but it wasn’t sad, because my family survived too.” He shrugged behind his mask. “I wonder: If it all disappeared, except for you, your family, your house, would those pans hold the same meaning?”
I shook my head. “Probably not.”
“You are exactly where you are supposed to be,” he said. “I believe that. And I hope someday you do too.”