My wife asked me to make a hard boiled egg for her this morning. I put a pot of water on stove and opened the refrigerator door. I couldn't find the eggs right off, so the door swung wide open. The eggs were out of place, under some tupperwared leftovers on a bottom shelf, the door still open. I brought the egg carton to the stove, and opened it, to select an egg. That's when Memere started up.
"Close the door!" she admonished in her Yankee accent. "You're letting all the cold out!"
And Memere was right. After a fashion.
When she grew up, refrigeration came from the ice box. Literally, an insulated box cooled by ice, cut months before from a local pond. Ice being ice, the temps in the ice box never got below 32. There was no such thing as a freezer, which required electricity to plunge the temps below the freezing point of water.
So, cold was a precious commodity, impossible to replenish. Once lost, it was gone. It wasn't just a matter of waiting for the kitchen's magic cooling machine to get back to work.
Since that one rebuke from my grandmother 50 years ago, I have been arguing with her in my head. Sometimes, the argument is historical and technological: the days of the icebox are gone! Our technology is far superior! Sometime, the argument is scientific: But Memere, it's not just the air that is cold, but everything in the fridge. Even letting the cold air out is but a fraction of the "cold" stored in there. Sometimes the argument is economic and social: Memere, it costs pennies at most to recool whatever air might have been lost. Is it worth it to get us both upset over a few pennies?
There are so many voices like my Memere's rattling around in my head, and so many internal debates with those voices. They come from arguments that could not be formulated by a young mind. From comebacks that coalesced too late to be used in a fight. From responses that were too raw and cruel to voice, and needed a lifetime of reflection and wisdom to make with the necessary tenderness.
How much of our internal dialog is with people long dead? Is it good to keep our loved ones (not to mention our detested enemies!) so close to us? Can we find ever find peace with them? Or must we wait for that day when we meet face to face? Will the first business of Heaven be to reconcile with those whose voices inhabited our heads?