Moira has surgery on Monday morning, an event that will take us off the grid for the majority of the week. I’ll report back about a week from now on her status. While this surgery isn’t routine, it it also not very complicated.
That hasn’t stopped me from being absolutely stone terrified. I want to write, but everything I come up with on my own is as dark and moody and Full of Feelers as a teenage girl’s poetry notebook that she thinks nobody knows about but they totally do, because hello, she’s 14. Of course she writes about darkness and rhymes “pain” and “insane” and compares her thoughts to the fleeting wings of butterflies.
So that’s where my mind is. Fleeting teenagery angsty butterbrains.
That said, I need to do SOMETHING to distract myself, so I Googled “creative writing prompts” and said “Self, you will write about the first topic you pick.” The first thing I clicked was this:
“Start freewriting with the help of this image: “A melon strolling on two tendrils.” (From a Sylvia Plath poem.)” …I don’t know about y’all, but when trying to call up some sparkly sunshine and light I don’t invoke the memory of Sylvia Plath. Could just be me. Next!
“Write about the most boring day you’ve had, but make it not boring.”
That’s far more promising. I’ll even narrow it down: how I chose a dining room table. If you can make it to the end without your eyes glazing over, do tell me so in the comments.
Something you might have gleaned from past posts of mine is that we tend to skew hippie. No, I don’t mean we actually skewer hippies on stakes; we just tend to be a little crunchy in our habits. Like all stay-at-home-mothers with too much time, too many golden-lit fantasies of raising children with a Waldorf aesthetic, and a PayPal directly linked to Etsy, I read a lot of Soulemama.
Soulemama is natural living blogporn; Martha Stewart gone homesteading rogue with a litter of earthy children and acres of land sprinkled with animals and handcrafted wholesome toys. While I enjoy her blog, I try to take it for what it is–a glossy highlight reel of a life I don’t actually have any real interest in living. What on earth would I do with five children? All my first ideas involve some sort of Roman coliseum recreation and that, to me, says that I should stick with my two. We already know Moira can wrestle.
One post leapt out at me, though–her husband crafted a dining room table built for seven plus their extended families. A harvest table, conveniently finished for Thanksgiving. I became consumed. I didn’t need the five kids or the sheep named after the Brontes or the vintage fabrics, but wouldn’t our family be more wholesome, more bonded, more…Instagrammable (is that a word? it is now) if we had a farm-style dining room table of our very own?
First I decided that we–or rather, Tom–would build one. My beloved hastily nixed that idea. Then I priced local shops. Tom nixed those as well–too costly for furniture that would, in all likelihood, be beaten like a flat woody mule by our children. A friend hipped me to a weekly auction in town–estate sale stuff, some good deals–and I found it.
It was THE TABLE. It had a rustic look, room for six with leaves that I could add on for more space, and a beautiful dark finish. My eyes grew misty as I imagined fancy holiday gatherings, the leaves creaking under the strain of specially cooked carbohydrates; mistier still as I fantasized doing crafts with my children and one day my grandchildren as we all dressed in simple organic linen frocks and hummed “You Are My Sunshine.”
Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t even own any linen. The point is this: this was the table I wanted at the price I needed and I would not be dissuaded. We bid, I won, and I arranged for delivery.
Now might be a good time to remind you newcomers that I can’t see out of my left eye and my depth perception is severely limited. Giving measurements means nothing whatsoever to me. I have almost no spatial reasoning skills at all. Until a geographer friend corrected me, I couldn’t even SPELL “spatial.”
The table arrived with the leaves in.
…Do you know how BIG a 12-seater table is?
It’s massive. It’s enormous. It’s a table for a family who is letting God call the birth control shots. It’s a military barracks table. When I described it to Tom over the phone I told him “I think we’re Quiverfull now. Maybe FLDS. I need a sisterwife and her kids to fill the other half of the table.”
And I couldn’t get the leaves off. At one point I actually became stuck in the gap between the leaf, which had jammed on the runners, and the table as I was trying to use myself as a brace to pop that heavy oaken bastard off. I cursed the idea of farmhouse tables, of happy natural living, and wished I had just gotten some reproduction Pottery Barn nightmare and had done with it.
But it came off and I reduced the table down to a manageable six seats, popped a little tray on there…and you know, it came together. Like The Dude’s carpet, it really ties the room together. It’s turned out to be the center of a lot of our family life–breakfasts, crafts, audiobooks, playgroup lunches, activities with friends, a buffet for parties. So many memories already in just a month’s worth of ownership, and even a few blemishes: “Oh look, that’s where Maggie Sharpie’d her seat.”
Dammit. That hippie homesteading nut in Maine was right. A harvest table is where it’s at, guys.