I have a small (9”), orange sauté pan, a Le Creuset. It’s probably about $100 new, which is a lot more than I could reasonably spend on a non-essential piece of cooking equipment these days having not yet made my millions in either environmental conservation or pottery. Go figure. It’s a pretty nice pan; I use it to make delicious skillet flatbread a couple of times a month. But it’s not my “go to” pan. Anyway, this orange pan, currently in service as “the heavy thing that holds the gas burner grates in place so they don’t rattle whenever I walk through the kitchen”, is not mine. Also, I have no intention of ever returning it to the actual owner though the possibility exists that it may end up again in the hands of the person I got it from. It is a very slim possibility. A wafer-like, maybe-in-an-alternate-reality type of possibility.
In truth, I didn’t even ask to borrow it. I was admiring it at a friend’s house and she said, “Oh that? You can use that. Sure, take it home with you.” And then she told me the story of the ex-boyfriend who had loaned the set of cookware to her and who occasionally came by to remind her that those were HIS pans and that someday he would want them back but not right now. It was a tough, complicated situation and one that I cannot sit here and judge and say, “What she really needed to do was_____” because, really, what do we know about other people’s lives and decisions? Can we manage our own lives flawlessly? How often do people take advice, anyway?
Not that often.
Before I left Hawaii I could have returned the pan to the actual owner or put it back into the hand-me-down flow but something kept me from it. My friend had already disappeared with little trace.What possessed me to ship an unnecessary, 5 lb, orange pan across an ocean and a continent to reside in an attic in New Jersey? I can only say that I kept it so that I would always know where it was. As if it was something I always wanted to be keeping track of, this orange pan.