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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

what am I keeping? my good china

I vacate my apartment tomorrow — for the next 10 days, till I fly to London on the 18th, I’ll be sleeping on my brother Ken’s couch in Astoria — and in between posting here today, I’ve been finishing up packing up the few things I’ll be putting into storage.

One of the things that I absolutely could not bear to part with is the set of china I bought years ago: I hardly ever used it, but somehow it feels like it defines me, or at least a part of me. It’s Johann Haviland Blue Garland, which is apparently pretty common and easy to find. I didn’t know that at the time, however: I’d never seen it before. This is one of the serving dishes:

This is a pattern that has gone through many releases over the 75 years it’s been around, and I’m pretty sure mine is one of the older releases, not one of the versions that ended up being a drugstore staple in the 1970s. But even if it is, that doesn’t matter to me — I didn’t buy it because I thought it was valuable, but because it called to me the moment I saw it, service for eight all laid out on a big table in a secondhand shop lo these many years ago. I like that the pattern is delicate without being frou-frou: the tiny flowers are a sort of blue-gray color, and there’s a thin silver trim that isn’t noticeable in that picture.

I decided to buy it because I was at that time coming to the realization that I was not like the other girls: I would not be getting married, not have a bridal registry from which people would buy my expensive gifts like fancy china. I knew that if I were ever going to own fancy china, I was gonna have to buy it myself. So I did.

I also kept this set, just cheapie stuff from Ikea:

which I also hardly used. But I like that it sorta coordinates with the Blue Garland. I hate a table that’s too matchy-matchy, and the silver brings these two patterns together in an interesting way.

Of course, if I decide to stay in London permanently, I’m not sure it would be worth the enormous expense to ship all this heavy china over there. But I’ll make a decision about that if and when the moment arrives.

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