Since I’ve lived in California, my diet has consisted of mostly fast food, pizza and the occasional at-home spaghetti. My boyfriend and I have tried to get better at cooking, but it seems that whatever I buy goes bad before I can use it.

This is life without a refrigerator.

I’ve never moved into a place that didn’t come with a refrigerator before — who takes their fridge with them? — but that is the situation we were in last November.

At first, it doesn’t seem so bad — you’ll just eat fresh food, you think. You’ll save on electricity, too.

This dream wasn’t sustainable. Within a few weeks, I thought I’d really scored when someone offered me a free small refrigerator in Napa. The only problem was that I lived in Vallejo and had no way to transport it.

We recruited City Editor Kevin and his wife, Cheryl, to help us shimmy the “fridge” up a tiny staircase and onto our rented U-Haul truck.

When we returned it, the truck company overcharged us. But that wasn’t the half of it. When we put a half gallon of milk in the moldy refrigerator, we found out that it was actually a freezer. I thought it was odd there would be a refrigerator without a freezer in it, but I was being hopeful.

We turned the temperature down (up?) a few times, but my milk kept freezing. I just wanted some cereal.

After picking up a cooler for a few bucks from the thrift store, we had a nice transfer system going — the freezer could make ice, after all, and ice from the freezer would keep our cooler, well, cool.

We had to dump the ice melt daily. But we didn’t. The cheese drowned and the lettuce wilted.

In time, I lucked out again and picked up an awesome blue, retro mini fridge — again free — that I loved. But my boyfriend didn’t. He’s tall and doesn’t like to bend down, or move the jam to find the Parmesan, so we began waiting for our next chance at a used full-size, fridge-freezer combo.

(No, buying a new one wasn’t an option.)

Last week, thanks to the Register’s move to new offices, our chance came.

And this time we did it right.

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I checked out prices for truck rentals and quickly decided to switch to Craigslist. It took less than a minute to find a guy around our age with a truck looking for some extra cash and something to do. I called him, he was in, we were picking up our cargo within the hour.

Poor guy probably thought we had hired him for a crime when we pulled up to the back of the deserted old Register building. The scene was a little sketchy, but I told him the situation and he seemed to believe me...

When we got the fridge home, it took three hours to clean away the gook, grime and mold. The ghosts and guts of Register employee lunches past fought against us, but in the end, we won.

I was so excited that, even after all the hard work, I spent an hour in the grocery store figuring out what to fill it with. (Milk, of course.)

Now, sitting on my comfy yard sale couch, I can see our sort-of-new fridge stand tall in our once empty-looking kitchen and I think, Yes!

“It’s like we’re adults,” one of us said. Now let’s break out the Lucky Charms.

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. Jersey Girl runs every other Monday. Follow her on Twitter at @RiaSestito or email her at


Public Safety Reporter

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She covers breaking news as well as crime and courts. Maria came to the Napa Valley Register in 2015 after working at as a reporter and photographer at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC. S