A Find

My parents' first great success was laying green linoleum in the makeshift kitchen. When they finished the two of them sat on their new floor and rubbed each other's backs. They needed one bathroom and one kitchen. They had four weeks and $250. After the linoleum triumph, they brought in the stove, which was rescued from a house-fire and only had three functioning burners. Next, they needed a sink. My father began calling contractors.

"You remodel kitchens, right? Good. See, I was wondering, what do you do with the stuff you take out?"

They were offered a stainless steel sink with a Delta faucet from a newly updated Levittowner for $10. When they arrived to pick up their second-hand sink, they found it thrown into a wooded area behind the house. After climbing through thorny bushes and over a beehive, they emerged victorious, sink in hand. On the road, we would stop to examine each piece of furniture we saw on the curb. Every appliance discarded on a front lawn. Whenever we drove anywhere, I'd catch myself scanning the sidewalks. Looking for a find.


Originally from Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Cowan has lived in Iowa City since 2004. She received an MFA in nonfiction writing from The University of Iowa in 2007 and currently teaches writing at Kirkwood Community College and the University of Iowa College of Business.

This page was first displayed
on February 29, 2008

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