My beautiful dining table all shiny and new when I brought it home from the “showroom”.
I’m selling my dining table. And having a fucking breakdown because of it.
It’s just a piece of furniture.
But I cried. A lot.
I’m actually still crying as I write this because it isn’t just a piece of furniture.
This table was the first piece of brand-new, grown-up furniture that my partner and I ever bought together. Prior to that it was all second hand and Ikea in miniature (we did love you Jokkmokk, but alas, you were just too tiny for a family of four).
I had been looking for a new table for over a year.
I wanted something sturdy, strong and heavy that could withstand years of abuse by lively little boys. Something that was small enough for the four of us, but big enough to accommodate more with ease. A table that we would make memories at for years to come.
I took on a Goldilocks persona as I refused to settle until I found the one that was, in fact, just right.
We had just received our tax refund, that at $1,000 was the biggest refund we’d ever had. We were feeling wealthy and being very careful about how we were going to spend it. We were doing our normal monthly Costco run when I saw it.
It was oak with a walnut finish. Counter height with eight chairs and a fold-in leaf. It was beautiful and I loved it. My partner (who doesn’t care where he eats as long as there’s food) thought it was nice and agreed that we should get it.
He made a frenzied run home (that’s how I imagine it, but in reality he was totally calm and not in any kind of a hurry) to get a blank check because our debit card wouldn’t allow $800 in transactions in one day.
Then he stopped to borrow a truck because our Saturn Vue couldn’t accommodate the table on it’s own, let alone the eight chairs.
I sat anxiously at Costco in one of the chairs on the display shooing people away because there was only one left and I didn’t want anyone to take it.
A Costco employee helped my partner load it all onto the truck but then when we got home, I didn’t have the strength to unload it. The chairs were easy, but we had to unpack the box for the table, take the hefty legs in separately and I still struggled to get the tabletop up the five stairs and into the back door.
It was an adventure for sure, but when we finished, we still had $200 left of our refund and we finally had our beautiful dining table for our family to gather around for years to come.
I was thrilled. My partner thought my excitement over a piece of furniture was laughable.
Fast forward almost exactly eleven years, I’m taking pictures and writing an ad to post on Craigslist when all eleven years of those memories came flooding back. Melodramatic, I know, but I think my table’s life flashed before my eyes.
There were eleven years of birthday cakes, songs and gift opening for our now 22 and 16-year-old children (as well as ourselves and some other family and friends).
Every holiday meal from the whole Christmas spread to the big bowl of Colcannon on St. Patrick’s Day and the pot of “Groundhog Stew” (AKA Meatball Minestrone) on Groundhog Day.
Decorating cookies for the holidays.
Dyeing and painting hundreds of Easter eggs. There’s still a bit of copper paint left on a chair from the wayward paintbrush of an excited little boy, and a mark across the table from the same little boy when he thought his pumpkin carving tool could be used as a hammer.
Assembling blessing bags and making Valentine cards for the seniors at our local convalescent home during February’s month of daily RAK’s (Random Acts of Kindness).
All the projects and feasts after we completed every unit study while I was homeschooling my youngest.
So. Much. Art. Painting and drawing and collages and coloring.
Building, creating and assembling thousands of Legos for hours on end.
And oh, the forts!
My youngest adored making the table into a fort. He would drag his beanbag chair into his fort with a stack of books to read. Sometimes we would set him up under there with a Disney movie on the laptop and a little bowl of popcorn while we watched an R rated movie on the big screen. Occasionally my oldest would join him for the Disney flick instead of the boring grown-up film.
There was the time that I opened our bedroom door (after a giant and out-of-control bash in celebration of my long overdue graduation from University) and my table greeted me because it had been moved out of the dining room and into the living room to make space for the beer pong table.
In a hangover haze I vaguely remembered seeing people play poker at the table while sitting on my sofa and thinking how odd it was that the dining table seemed like it was in the living room.
There’s a deep scratch on one of the chairs from my partners work keys when he was rushing out to get back to work after coming home for lunch one day (I freaked the fuck out). A long scratch across the tabletop from when my oldest slid a basket full of farmers market goods across it and many smaller scratches from my youngest racing his Hot Wheels on it.
Most recently there are marks on two of the chairs from the jelly seat cushions that we bought for my partner and our youngest at the beginning of the pandemic when they had to set up work and school in the dining room.
And of course so, so, so many wonderful, cozy meals full of chatter and laughter with family and friends.
Cheese and cracker afterschool snack time during the short time that my oldest and youngest were attending the same school together.
A very special family meal, that at the time, we didn’t know would be the last time that we saw one of my favorite Uncles.
The Thursday night dinners that I so looked forward to with my oldest after he turned 18 and moved out.
And the very last holiday family meal that we had together at that table on Christmas morning in 2018 when my oldest and his fiancé (my now daughter-in-law) visited for breakfast while he was home on leave from the army.
My oldest is now 22 years old, married and living in another state. My partner and I have separated and it’s just my youngest and I at home. And as much as I hate to admit it, we often sit on the sofa to eat dinner now watching Marvel movies or one of our favorite animated TV shows. It’s not that the two of us don’t make a family all on our own, because we do, but sitting at the table isn’t the same with just the two of us.
It’s obviously not about the table, just what the table represented to me. The flood of memories triggered a lot of emotions that I haven’t yet worked through.
I started to reminisce over what I anticipated when we bought it and even beforehand when I imagined what our family life would be like around that table. Then I reflected on how things turned out and thought that I didn’t get out of it what I had believed I would.
It’s true that I didn’t get the weekly Sunday dinners and annual holiday meals with my partner, my kids and their partners and the gaggle of grandkids that I fantasized about.
But I did get 11 years of irreplaceable memories and so many pictures of the events that took place around that table. So while they may be attached to the table, I’m not letting go of the memories, just the things. It’s just a piece of furniture after all, it isn’t a tragedy, even if momentarily it felt like one.
Have you ever been so attached to a piece of furniture? Or is just me?
Since I first wrote this piece about two months ago, the table was in fact sold and I couldn’t be happier about who it was sold to. A home for young pregnant women who want to have their babies but have no support and nowhere to go. I can only imagine the lifelong relationships that these girls will forge with each other, the tears, the laughter, the fear, the hope. They will gain and give so much strength to and from each other over shared meals and projects and time. It couldn’t possibly go to a better place.