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On Dishes and Nomadic Life

A blue saucer and bowl. The bowl is full of chickpea pozole, a Mexican stew.
Homemade Chickpea Pozole served on the Santorini dishes I bought.

I spent too much on dishes. They were called Santorini. The plates, bowls, and mugs were midday sky blue and whitewashed buildings white. They were imperfect in shape, holding subtle flaws that evolved after so many washes. 

How much is too much to spend on dishes? $125 for four dinner plates, dessert plates, bowls, and mugs. I purchased them at the Area Store in Norte Shopping. They weighed down my arms as I carried them through the mall’s weekend lunchtime chaos to Chris. 

Whenever I shopped at Norte for items that our furnished but not fully equipped penthouse lacked, Chris and I went together by Uber. Once there, Chris typically took his laptop to the Arcadia Café in the classy Galleria section of the mall. From there, he worked on our videos, software projects for his company, and other creative projects. He enjoyed a cappuccino and a scone with jelly while I searched for dinnerware, kitchen knives, pots and pans, and hangers. We needed a ridiculous amount of hangers. Each time I needed to empty my arms, I went to where he sat and set bags on the chair across from him or on the floor next to him. 

I loved those dishes, and I’m sure I’ll spend the same amount or more on dishes again. They were worth the price but too much all the same. 

When is $125 too much to spend on dishes?

I have no memories of Santorini or affection for Greece. I’m sure it’s lovely, but I’ve never been. My choice of dishes was based on my love for that sunshiney shade of blue. Nostalgia doesn’t equal value, so that wasn’t the price issue. 

Before purchasing the Santorini set of dishes, I thought we’d live in Portugal for at least two years. Chris and I planned to work toward establishing EU citizenship. We doubted Portugal would be our forever country, but a moving truck might take our dishes and various purchases to our next home.

The last time I used dishes I picked out and purchased was in August 2020, more than three years before I bought the Santorini dishes. In September 2020, when I went to InFocus Film School’s Writing for Film and Television Program, we rented a furnished and fully equipped apartment in Vancouver, B.C. After completing the program, we moved to twelve different North American cities in twelve months to create travel content for our YouTube Channel. In each location, we stayed in a Sonder, Airbnb, or VRBO. Then, we spent three months in Ireland, five months in the Algarve region of Portugal, and three months in Porto – again, we stayed at Airbnb and VRBO properties. We went on a 56-day trip to 28 locations, some in Europe and others in the United States.

In September 2023, I wanted my own nice set of dishes. We were settling down. Finally. it was time. 

By January, our plans had changed. At the end of March, we flew from Porto, Portugal. Right now, we’re in Kelowna, B.C. In about six weeks, we’ll be in Minnesota, our home state. Our current plan is to settle down there. We’ll see what happens. 

We only used the Santorini dishes for six months, and that’s when $125 is too much to spend on dishes. I could have bought all the dishes we needed for $50—maybe less—at Ikea or Continente.

It’s Not Just About the Dishes…

A woman holding an iPad with the book Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck on it.
Me sitting at my desk in our Porto "home."

I was sick of using the cheap knives most furnished rentals supplied, so I bought Zwilling knives. We bought a Nespresso coffeemaker because that’s our favorite brand. I ordered a KitchenAid toaster and a Le Creuset teakettle because I wanted a well-equipped kitchen.

In anticipation of settling down, when we were in the United States during our 56 days of travel, I bought a pie tin, measuring cups and spoons, and a pastry cutter at Williams Sonoma.    

In September, we also bought me a desk and an office chair. The desk was nearly $400, and the chair was around $150. I won’t tell you what Chris spent on his office chair. He knew what he wanted and could only find it in the United States. The shipping costs nearly matched its retail price. 

We spent a lot on setting up life in Porto before deciding it wasn’t for us. It could have been worse. We almost bought a car and might’ve bought a house. 

Good news: I think we’re out less than five grand. Bad news: We are starting over again from close to zero. Good news: We have some items in a storage unit in Rochester, Minnesota. Bad news: We sold and gave away a lot of items. Good news: I enjoy shopping, and we’re not in a dire economic situation. 

Indecision is expensive, but our travels have made us rich in intangibles. Right now, we think it’s been worth it. Right now, we also feel impatient for our own place, set up how we want it. We are both ready to settle down. Truth be told, I was ready two years ago, but I loved the adventure too. 

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