Monday, February 02, 2009

zen and the art of furniture maintennance

Ok, so I have no idea where I left off, and I'm not going to go back and read my own blog. I cannot stand to be faced with the rambling. I think the last big thing that was happening over here before my hiatus was that I was trying to learn how to parent MyFavoriteKid through his troubles in school, particularly with math. I'm going to tell you all about that for sure, but not today. Today (because apparently venting is an integral part of my emooooootional process *snivel*), we're going to talk about an odd little outburst of tears I had last night.

TheMostImportantGuy had come to visit for the weekend (as he most often does) but it was Sunday, and it was time for him to go.

Now, let it be known: I hate "The Going" part. Once he's actually gone, I'm okay. I mean, he's missed, but I'm not behaving ridiculously. But during "The Going" ?? Egads it's bad. It's so bad that we even have a well established ritual that is intended to lessen the drama. Right before he heads out the door, he pops a hard-candy into my pouting whiny mouth (sugar free or I'd be toothless by now---we've been doing this for years). The sweetness of the candy and his kind gesture keeps me distracted long enough to be keep me relatively happy until he has left and has some distance behind him. Odd, aren't we. I know.

Anyhow, he was headed out the door last night, and I somehow managed to get quite weepy and clingy. It was oddly over the top. About an hour after his departure I started feeling all sick to my stomach, and that's when it finally dawned on me that it wasn't his leaving that was causing the upset. Something else was off kilter. That is when I realized that what was realllllly upsettting me was the dining room table.

Let me rewind and give you the backstory about this table. I've had this table for a long time. It was given to me back in 1994 as a thank you for helping a neighbor move. I'm not sure how long my friend had it before then or how he'd come to have it. I have always loved this table. It's a drop leaf and folds down into a narrow 2-seater. If you pull up the wings up and it seats 4-6 people. Pop in the additional leaf and it seats 6-8. Solid wood. Worn from much use even before it came to me, but lovely.

As much as I love this table, there has always been a part of me pining for something different. Even before this table, I have never owned a "grown up" diningroom table. I either didnt have the space in my apartments, or I couldn't afford one. And this table of mine, being a hand me down, came with a few quirks. One of the pop up wings is a little loose and unstable, and it also always requited a matchbook (or two or three) underneath it to make it even.

When I moved here to the new house a year and a half ago, I only brought 3 pieces of furniture with me, and this was one of them (I went on a rampage and refurnished the whole frickin' house). I have been bitching ever since I got here that I even though I love this table, I really wanted a new table, I just couldnt find exactly the right thing. What I really desire (and maybe I've been watching too much Barefoot Contessa), is a round pedestal table that expands to an oval.

Well, leave it to the fates. Or mercury retrograde. Or something. As of last week, one of the legs of my dining room table is officially falling off.

Like, the wood split. Repairable, if someone has the skill. But I don't. Repairable if I just brought it to someone with skill, but I decided this was the universe telling me that my ideal expandable round table is now out there waiting for me, and so I went looking again, and lo and behold, there it was. By yesterday afternoon, I had found my new table. I ordered it, and it will be here next week. Huzzah.

Immediately after ordering the table yesterday, I took the pictures you see here of the old table, and I posted them on CraigsList. I offered the table for free, provided that whoever took it promised to fix it and love it and not turn it into firewood. Of course, I got a pile of replies, and by the evening, I had made plans for someone (who sounded like a nice woodworky sort of guy who said he would keep it and use it) to come pick it up on Monday (today).

Okay. So this brings us back to the point in the story where TheMostImportantGuy is heading home and I am snivveling with candy in my mouth. Sorry for not giving you the reader's digest version. Thanks for sticking with me if you got this far. Reward yourself with chocolate, my compliments.

So there I was last night, clutching my stomach feeling like I was going to be sick, and that's when I realized what was really going on. Clearly, I am attached to this old dining room table. Rewind some more, and I can tell you that earlier in the week, I also finally disposed of a beloved bedroom lamp that had been shattered beyond recognition, and it was a lamp that I had since I was 19 and in my first very first apartment. I broke the lamp 3 months ago. I didn't have the nerve to toss it out until last week. And right after I tossed it, the table leg broke. Rewind some more, and I can also tell you that earlier last week, I realized that I am all of the sudden feeling very middle aged. I am in my early 40's, but I have close friends in their 50's and 60's (and then some), and I also have close friends in their 20's and 30's. I can totally see where I am going, and I can totally see where I have been. It's an interesting vantage point. I like it. but I feel very "middle-ish" and I'm not exactly sure yet how this is relevant, but I am damn certain that it is.

Then I start tossing out furnishings I have bonded with big time, and well...all hell breaks loose, and I get all emotional and am crying and feeling nauseous, and it's all over a table that I couldn't really wait to replace.

Ahhhhh, The Dining Room Table. So many parties, and so many stories, and so much laughter, and family times, and making food for people and and and ....

You get the drift. Break out your tiny violins.

The bedroom lamp? The one that I used to drape with vintage sheer scarf so it would cast a lovely romatic glow across my boudior? It's now toast.

Having done a tremendous amount of purging of clutter in the past couple of years, I know for a fact that what I am attached to is the memories, not the lamp or the table. In fact, the more I think about it, I might not even be attached to memories. I think I might just be attached to the feelings these objects represent. And that feeling is intimacy.

Figuring this out is making it much easier to let the representative objects go (replacing my lamp with a new one that casts an even rosier glow has not hurt any...and once this new diningroom table is here, y'all are officially extended an open invitation to join me for dinner so I can make me some new memories. You just come on down now, ya' hear??!)

But going through the whole process of figuring out why I was so upset?? What an interesting little pile of internal research that was last night. And shifting from feeling sick inside to being ready to let go, and doing so quickly (in just a few hours) was kinda fun to watch. I hope I can do it at this speed more frequently.

The punchline to my little story, though?? The guy from Craigslist flaked on picking up the table today. I did all this internal work and finally got to the emotional place where I could really let it go....and the table is still here.


Helen said...

Oh I have furniture like that. It's currently living back at my Mum's house where it's safe so I don't end up schlepping it right the way across the damn country and back. It belonged to my Granny first, then my Mum and now me, and I rescued it out of the former marital home (where the ex had left a plant on the sideboard with no saucer the peasant). I would be gutted to lose it, even though the table is dropping to bits. So I sympathise. I don't think I will ever be parted from my furniture!

Mouse said...

*hugs* on the bright side of the guy flaking -- at least you have something to eat on for the next 10 days.

Anonymous said...

I've had that happen, too, and it's tough! I cleaned out my mother's apartment when she went to a nursing home and gave away the furniture and had an extremely hard time letting go of a dresser of hers (we just didn't have the equipment to move it) but I nearly started crying with the moving guy there. It didn't help that he said "are you sure you want to get rid of this? It's pretty nice" and then, when my husband and I sold our Saturn ("red car" to my now 8 year old, but 6 at the time) and he saw it driving away, he just BURST into tears and had to be consoled, big time. It's curious the feelings we attach to furniture, etc.!!! Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

I have also been trying to learn to let go of things. I live in a house full of clutter though the house is easily large enough for my family. I'm trying the "take a picture to save instead" method. Since my goal is to keep the memories, I think that may work. So far, it's still not easy.

~Donna~ said...

OMG, I am totally like that too. I balled my eyes out when I donated my car last summer. I took video of it being towed away thinking I would post it, but you can hear me sniveling and crying in the background, so that's never gonna get happen! Wish I had the know-how to fix the table, I'd take it.

~Donna~ said...

not supergirl...I am doing the same thing. It DOES work, and yes, it's not easy. Sometimes it's very hard, but you can do it.

Anonymous said...

The candy-goodbye ritual isn't odd, but cool and sweet. As guests leave a Chinese funeral, they are given a piece of candy (and some lucky money to buy more) to remind them of the sweetness of life.

Karen tDL