I bought a new table this weekend. I don’t normally buy furniture on impulse–the table didn’t even have a price tag on it. I had walked a couple blocks to check out some yard sales in my neighborhood, $3 and some quarters in my pocket. Standing in the driveway in the sun, the girls playing hide and seek in racks of old clothes set out on the grass, the baby in the stroller snuggling a new stuffed kitten acquired for a quarter at the last sale– I looked at the table and looked again at the glass knob on the drawer and touched the smooth white porcelain enamel top and asked the woman sitting at the umbrella table: is this for sale?
I have a small house and a small kitchen and a small table already. I called T: I want to buy this table. He asked practical questions: does it need to be painted? where will we put it? I did not have practical answers. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I went back the next morning, wrote a check, sighed with relief when she stuck a sold sticker on it.
I cleared space in my living room, just inside the front door. Sitting here now, with my coffee and my laptop, I can see the baby in the kitchen in her high chair, munching cheerios. Just behind me, Lucy is sitting on the couch, wearing pajamas and pink plastic dress up shoes, eating Go Gurt, watching Dora save the Crystal Kingdom. Down the hall, Dorothy is still sleeping in the top bunk–I’ll see her when she peeks out her bedroom door and sleepily says good morning.
I have paint chips spread out next to the laptop: tart apple, marmalade, fire island red, bicycle yellow, carrot sticks, sweet midori, pepper grass, warm earth, wet coral. Greens, oranges, yellows, reds, browns. Fresh and bright. The table legs need to be sanded and painted in the next couple days, and there are a million other projects to be done, but now I’m imagining a fresh coat of paint in the kitchen too. What if I paint the kitchen cliff rock with a marmalade accent wall, and then I paint the table fire island red? What if I paint the accent wall yellow flash and the table June sun? What if I painted the cabinets polar bear white to match the table top? What if I paint the entire upstairs wooden cabin with tangerine dream accents, and then I paint the table fire island red?
I couldn’t explain the pull, the need when I was standing in my neighbor’s driveway, but sitting here now, the table makes perfect sense. I almost never sit down in the kitchen–I eat and write and make to do lists standing up at the counter, in between cutting the crusts off butterfly shaped cheese sandwiches and pouring refills of chocolate milk and finding another fruit strip in the back of the cupboard and peeling and cutting a banana for the baby and getting a fresh cup of water for paint with water books. I carry laundry upstairs and downstairs, take the trash out, let the dog in, wash the pots and pans that won’t fit in the dishwasher. But right now? I am sitting down. At my table. Indulging a fantasy of sunshower and marsh fern and tangerine dreams.
Just Write happens every Tuesday at The Extraordinary Ordinary–it’s an exercise in free writing the extraordinary ordinary moments of our lives. Like impulse buying a vintage table you definitely don’t need and finding out it fits perfectly in that corner of your life you hadn’t noticed before.