I was inspired by Patricia Zaballos’ essay about her beloved table over at Rhythm of the Home the other day. It got me to thinking about ours. We move. A lot. But we always bring our table with us. It was my mother’s once, bought new when teak was all the rage, along with home perms. We ate dinner there every night after she came home from work. When she married my step-dad, it was relegated to her weaving studio in the basement, where it took on a new and more creative life.
When I moved out I took it with me from place to place, at first perched precariously in the back of friend’s trucks, and then in rented one-tonnes when I could afford that, and — more recently — carried off in the arms of real, live, actual, paid movers,who I hold in great esteem. When we first moved in together, Jack and I parked a chair on either side and made up cocktails and played cribbage and Yahtzee at that table. It has hosted many a marvelous dinner over the years. It displayed our wedding cake. Food for the midwives to nibble on. Birthday feasts. Christmas morning scones and devonshire cream. Our traditional red Valentines meal. It has held up heavy heads resting on weary arms after long days at work. It’s been the base of many forts. I have sat at that table and wept, more than once. More than I’d care to think about. My babies have helped themselves to their first bites of food at that table. They’ve been plopped on their chairs for hundred of meals, always at the table, never at a separate high chair.
Now, Esmé works at the table. She cuts and pastes, she draws and prints and makes potions. She studies her bugs and worms and snails. She shoves her breakfasts aside to lay out a picture book, or make something Very Important. As she gets older, that table will become schoolish at times, and wonderously unschoolish at others.
Hawksley can see the window by the front door from his seat. He watches for the cat to want in, or for Jack coming home at the end of the day. He creates at the table too. Spectacular and joyous messes for the most part, but they are his, and he is at the table with the rest of us.
We come together at our table in our tiny kitchen. To sit at our table is to be invited into our family. We will offer you tea and homemade cookies, a meal, our love and support, advice, solicited or not.
The wood on the table is pocked and stained. The leaf we recently pulled out to make room for art supplies at one end shows what the teak looked like when it was new. Nevermind if walls could talk. That table has hosted many hopes and dreams, and oh so many of my Crazy Big Ideas. Recently we had a shelf built to fit under the end against the wall, for more supplies for our enthusiastic builders and makers and learners. There are four chairs around the table now. With more brought out when we have visitors. No matter how small our kitchen is, there is always room at the table. Like Mary Poppin’s enchanted carpet bag, the things that happen at this table are endless. As are the possibilities.
Someday I’d like to refinish it. Sand off the years of wear and tear, say goodbye to the permanent marker stains and glitter glue, the gouges from scissors and craft knives. But not anytime soon. That table has a lot more story to tell.
Thank you, Patricia, for reminding me of the important of such an ordinary, everyday, miraculous thing.