June 10, 2012
Roots Can Fly
During my last visit back to the States, I finally managed to go through some of the family china that my mom has been keeping for me in her cupboard. There's a full dinner set of my great-grandmother's that I have always loved. The problem, of course, is moving a full dinner set of antique china from Arizona to New Zealand. It's fragile, and it's surprisingly heavy -- they don't make things like this anymore! A full dinner plate weighs almost one pound! In the end, I just sorted through this dinner set, made an inventory of what's there, and wrote a list of the pieces I'd like to claim as mine. Then I put it all back in the cupboard. Getting it all over here seemed like an insurmountable task at the moment. I'll get there though, I do have a bit of a plan now. It involves packaging and mailing some and hand-carrying some on my next trip.
For now, however, I did bring a different set of plates back. These ones are a gorgeous pattern called Singapore Bird. They were a wedding gift to my mom and dad, a gift from my grandmother's friends. It's not a full dinner set but more like a dessert set. There's medium sized plates and tea cups and saucers. I brought the plates... and one tea cup. The weight of just that was more than the allowable weight of a carry-on on Air New Zealand.
I cinched my carry-on bag down as much as possible, making it look small so that it would not be singled out to be weighed when boarding the plane. (Yes, this does happen on Air New Zealand, beware.) I had a back-up plan if it was weighed - the bag itself weighed a couple of pounds so I would take the plates out and then let them gate-check my empty carry-on bag. Out of the bag, the plates were just within the limit. And so for 3 flight changes and three rounds of security, I nervously passed my bag through the x-ray machines hoping not to be told that your mother's Singapore Bird china was on the seemingly totally random list of forbidden items. (To add to this drama, it was also the first time I was travelling with medication involving liquid, needles and ice packs). I just tried to play it cool. And it worked. No security officer singled me out and no flight attendant questioned the weight of my bag.
Sweet success. Last week, we used the plates for chocolate cake at my husband's birthday party.
I use the tea cup nearly every morning. My husband, who has a tendency to break things, is not allowed to touch it. But even if a plate broke, I'd be OK with that because it seems ridiculous to leave them packaged up permanently when it's just such a thrill to use them, to have them here reminding me of my mom and dad, my grandmother and her dear friends that I knew as a child. They may be a pattern depicting birds, but they are a symbol of my roots.
Turns out you can pick them up and bring them with you.