“Dude, that’s insane!” Thing 3 said to me last night.
“I KNOW!” I replied gleefully.
I was showing her photos I had taken earlier in the day, after a naughty trip to the junk market, a doctor’s appointment, and the flower market. I think it might have qualified as my best Shanghai morning ever. No traffic, blue sky, eyeballs no longer burning with smut and grit.
Last week with Poppy I had seen a porcelain (?) bowl in the junk market that I became obsessed with, sky blue on the inside and chocolate brown with gold chrysanthemums on the outside. The asking price was outrageous as befits my white face. I knocked the price down a bit but did not go much higher, left the vendor, and purchased some other more reasonably priced goodies. That damn bowl stayed in my mind ‘til the end of the day and I actually went back. But it was gone. Of course! Come back in a week, the vendor next to him said.
I was beginning to think I was a little crazy, to be so possessed by this bowl. I have a lot of bowls. In my heart, maybe I am replacing all of my beautiful Mexican ones dropped by the movers. I had only used them for special occasions, keeping them out of the hands of the domestic help and children so they would not be chipped or shattered, kept pristine with disuse and esthetic admiration. All to be broken by an unknown group of movers. My mother’s Mexican bowls are chipped but she still uses them. Hmmm, what’s the lesson there? Then I was reading
The Year of Pleasures
by Elizabeth Berg and the main character, too, had a bowl fetish. Relief! Vindication?
“How old is this bowl? V3 asked.
“No idea. Old but not too old.” I said.
“Old, like 100 years, 50 years, or old-new, like one and a half years?” He asked.
I knew what he was talking about. I am sure half of the things I have purchased were made a year ago and have had dirt vigorously rubbed onto their surfaces.
“Who knows? You tell me when I get back!”
So yesterday, I went back up into the market, the only foreigner in the jam-packed place, second-hand smoke filling my lungs to the brim in search of this bowl. The bowl was not there. Of course. Come back in a week, the vendor said. What, were they making the bowl? Probably. So I visited another vendor from the week before and knocked the price down off a lesser bowl but one that was still pretty. My real find, I thought, was a rice (?) bowl with a sky blue interior and black and orange goldfish with gold detailing on the outside. Wouldn’t this make a nice hostess gift, I thought to myself. The interior looked rather worn and discolored. A group of women stood off to the side watching and giggling. As the vendor was boxing it up, there was another one which he sold me too, the Chinese liking to make things in pairs. Had I been had again? Of course. I pulled my money out of my Mexican wallet, my bra, which everyone loved, and left with my arms full of treasures.
Back in the van, I showed V3 my finds. I lied when I told him what I paid for them but he still said he could get them cheaper. The goldfish bowls he thought might be old-old but the bowl he thought was old-new. Whatever.
At the flower market I bought bought peach tree branches, orchids, and peonies and an azalea for the pots by the front door. The peach tree branches remind me of weddings, the white and pink blossoms like the froth of a skirt or veil. Gorgeous. V3 bought his wife a bunch of roses and, as he perused my purchases, told me he could get everything I bought cheaper. As we drove home, he slowed down at the section of the road where we saw the chickens last week.
“Let’s look for the chickens,” he said.
Slowly we drove by. V3 started to speed up as we were coming to the end of the area where we thought they had been, almost pulling back onto the freeway, when suddenly there they were!
“Ducks,” he said, “not chickens!”
“Go back, go back, go back!” I shouted, laughing. I stuffed a camera in my purse this morning at the last minute, aware somewhere at the back of my brain, that I should be prepared.
I have posted a photo below, one far away so you will get the idea of their actual location of the elongated bodies without me getting run over in the middle of the freeway.
My advice to you: Use your bowls. Keep a camera handy. Remember that someone can always get something cheaper than you but might not have enjoyed buying it as much. Buy your wife flowers. Look at the flowering trees and remember a wedding, even if it’s not your own.
It is good to have a good day, even if it is a half of one. And I am not going back for that bowl next week. It will just have to find me again.