August 30, 2012


What came to mind when you read the post title, Surfing? I think for most people it would be one of a limited number of things: the sport in the water, where waves and sharks are your biggest challenges; couches, where your friends and relatives can end up when they're between residences or relationships; the Web, where anonymity and trolls are among the biggest pitfalls; and the TV, before which people across the land relax to forget their troubles for a while...or learn about new ones.

All are valid, and I'm betting there are a few more that haven't crossed my mind.

For me, however, in the last eight months or so, surfing has meant something else entirely: I've been a Refrigerator Surfer.

Sometime last December, my refrigerator died. Overnight it shut down and by the time I realized what had happened late the next morning, every single perishable thing in it had defrosted or gone bad. It was a mess. Everything had to go and I was faced with the daunting cost of buying a new fridge or calling in a repair person who would likely charge me to tell me it was not worth fixing because of its age. Neither prospect was appealing.

So, me being me, I did nothing. Everything was gone, there was no rush to decide what to do and I really, really didn't feel I could spare the money to replace it. Time went by, a month, two months and it really wasn't all that difficult. Yes, I missed milk and ice cubes -- I really, REALLY missed ice cubes -- but apart from that, it wasn't too bad. I had butter and I had eggs, which really don't need to be as refrigerated as we've been conditioned to believe, and everything else was either shelf stable or I didn't have it.

The biggest challenge, apart from the aforementioned ice cubes, was leftovers. I've changed my eating habits and I very often eat only half a meal when I dine out. With my budget being tight, I wasn't about to start throwing away what could well be a whole other meal for myself! So I started fridge surfing, borrowing space in the fridges of friends and family, for short periods of time. Well, short periods of time except for my brother's fridge, because I decided being family gave me the right to keep things in there just a little bit longer. Have you seen my brother's fridge? Much of the time it looks something like this:

It was just begging for more actual food in it! And who am I to deny a beautiful fridge like that anything? In return, it kept me in ice and cold water every couple of days. A beautiful, symbiotic relationship, as far as I was concerned. I'm anticipating that B2W3 (that's "the Best Brother in the Whole Wide World" for those of you who may be new to my blog) just might have a slightly different take on it, but that's what the comments are for, right?

I digress, however. My groceries, leftovers, treats and I became a traveling exhibit, moving from store/restaurant to one fridge to another as needed for months on end. I've "borrowed" ice from more freezers that you can shake a stick at in that time, too. A lot of people thought I was nuts, to varying degrees, and if I had a dollar for every time I heard, "I could never do that!" or "How on earth do you manage?" I'd probably have had enough to buy that new fridge.

But it worked pretty well for me overall, I have to say. Not only did I not spend money I couldn't spare on a new fridge, I wasn't filling it with food that all too often went bad before I could use it, I didn't have any ice cream in the house to tempt me, and my electricity bill was the lowest it has ever been. In the back of my mind, though, I knew that it was a temporary thing. I just knew that somehow, some way, I was going to get a fridge that wouldn't cost me much, if anything, and this personal experiment would be over.

Today is that day. Tonight I plugged in my brand new, used refrigerator that came to me for absolutely nothing through a friend, Freecycling at its best. It has been sitting in my kitchen for a week, waiting for me to start using it, once I got it all cleaned up. But I wasn't ready quite yet. I found I wasn't eager to jump right back into the regular world of refrigeration and give up my surfing days. I needed a reason, a push, an impetus.

Tonight I came home from an evening out with a leftover box, no desire to go find a fridge for it and not wanting it to go to waste. So I plugged my new friend in, listened to her hum, then filled her with everything I had available to me, which, admittedly, wasn't much.

It's only fair that I present to you, in the finest tradition of my family, my new used fridge, ready for action and the cleanest it will probably ever be from this day forward:

As soon as those bottle are actually chilled, let's have a toast, shall we?