Freedom on Ice

On New Year’s Eve, I noticed the contents of my refrigerator were warm. Room temperature warm. The freezer section seemed fine.

On New Year’s Day, I noticed a small puddle on the floor and a thin stream of water trailing downward from the door ice/water dispenser. Not good.

I couldn’t get a service call until last Friday, during which the repairman noticed ice crystals on the back interior of the freezer and diagnosed a malfunctioning something or other that wasn’t allowing the defroster to work. Three hundred dollars was his estimate, but he didn’t have the parts he needed, so I’d have to wait until today to make the repairs. Meanwhile, he advised, since we couldn’t be sure the frozen food hadn’t defrosted to some unsafe level, I should get rid of it. All of it. Refrigerator side, too.

At first I was horrified at the loss and the waste of food. Now, granted, about half of the food in the freezer had been there for three or four years. Chances are, I wasn’t going to eat it anyway. Plus, I couldn’t very well donate potentially spoiled food to a shelter or food bank. But still. It just seemed so wrong.

And then the strangest thing happened.

On Saturday, as I was tossing out my frozen collection, I felt an almost overwhelming sense of freedom. I no longer had to think about the frozen “diet dinners” I’d never eaten, or the unopened half gallon of orange sherbet my mother brought me when I was sick (two years ago). I didn’t have to feel guilty for tossing out the (formerly) perfectly good tortillas I bought before I converted to whole grain everything. I do regret the loss of an unopened container of soy milk, and the Boca Burgers I hadn’t had the courage to try yet, and the turkey and chicken I’d bought the week before to try out in chili recipes, and the frozen strawberries I’d planned to have for dessert on New Year’s Day, and the Smart Ones Pizza. Oh, the pizza loss was difficult to overcome. It was pepperoni!

As you can see, Saturday morning was chock full of conflicting emotions. But I persevered and tossed everything except a package of carrots, a diet soda, and my last three bottles SmartWater. Oh, and some wine. I threw out everything in the freezer, including the package of sausage that had wedged itself between my stack of pizzas and the vents at the back of the freezer. (Yes, that’s important as you’ll see in a minute.)

The repairman had said that I should turn off the freezer for a day to allow it to defrost, and then turn it on again. If I saw ice forming again, I should turn it back off. Only I never saw any ice. The thing ran like a dream for almost a week! When the repairman returned today and I told him about the sausage/vent thing and that the fridge had been running just fine, he confirmed that it was likely the blocked air vents that caused the problem. I’m supposed to try it out for a week longer.

As I was standing there staring into the vast emptiness of both freezer and fridge this morning, after the repair guy had gone, I had that sense of freedom again. Not only have I been spared the $300 cost of repair, I now face a great big do-over opportunity. I’ve tippy-toed far enough that I can buy only good, nutritional foods for my fridge, and only enough for the next few weeks. Never again will I shop for food as though the grocery stores were all closing the next day. (For energy efficiency, I’ll fill the unused shelves with recycled bottles of water.) Never again will I let a great sale overcome my sense of proportion and good sense. With the help of a two-(or possibly, three-)year old package of sausage, I can do it right this time! I feel proud already, knowing that the contents of my refrigerator will reflect the new, improved version of me.