One of the blue and white dishes that I got to say “hi” to last weekend was a little Sargadelos chop plate. I decided not to put it away, but rather loaned it to MamaRubi for the duration. It’s a very handy size. (It’s just the right size for a small mug of soup and a sandwich, for example. Or some cookies to share with a friend.)

I have a soft spot for this particular chop plate, because it taught me something about perspective, and how it shifts. When I was a newly-minted teacher in Madrid, earning the princely sum of 18 million pesetas a year (about $18K in 1985), I walked by a Sargadelos boutique every day on my way to the academia de lenguas where I taught. I had big love for those modern, un-foofy, designs, and I spent a lot of time in front of the shop window dreaming about the day when I’d have a few pieces in my collection. It seemed a long way off. They seemed enormously expensive. I never bought so much as a demitasse.

Fast forward to autumn 2004. Shaken by the Madrid train bombings, I’ve decided I need to go see — and hug — the friends of my Spanish youth. After an afternoon at the Museo Thyssen, I pass a boutique selling Sargadelos and feel inspired to treat myself. I poke around for a while, and finally pick up the little chop-plate, reasoning that it would fit in my luggage and wouldn’t be too hard to afford. It’s 15 euros.

How far we come in our lives, and how little we realize it.