We live in a small brick bungalow, built in 1903. The main part of the house consists of a kitchen and a living room. Although the kitchen is small, there is room for a table that rests comfortably by windows overlooking our yard. It’s where I do most of my writing and thinking. It’s where we eat, where we congregate, where we sit and reassure our little dogs that yes, we’re home for now and you’ll get some playful attention. One of our dogs likes to rest at my feet under the table when I’m sitting there for stretches of time. I cherish this peaceful feeling that ensues from his gentle snores all snuggled up underneath the kitchen table.
When we recently renovated our bathroom, the kitchen table became a collecting place strewn with papers, plans, to-do lists, manuals, tools, screws, and bandaids. There were even a few bottles of Advil and aspirin to alleviate some aches and pains (both physical and mental). As the renovation s-l-o-w-l-y drew to a close, we vowed that the kitchen table would be reborn: classic and clean from the renovation ruckus that kept it looking less like a kitchen table and more like a workbench.
The kitchen table was cleaned off, the placemats washed, and set up to look, well, like a kitchen table should look, I suppose.
It lasted one day. Maybe less.
The table came back to life with work related projects, bills, new to-do lists, receipts, reminders, dishes waiting to be put away, car keys, gloves, cookie crumbs, etcetera. What I call the “daily debris” of our lives.
There are disadvantages to a messy kitchen table. If an unwelcome visitor were to make his way into our home on any given day, he’d be able to infer, quite easily, what is going on in our lives. Hi there, unwelcome guest, welcome. Have a seat and you can find out all you need to know about us. We’ve “set” the table for you. When we don’t keep on top of what is on top of the kitchen table, piles grow. The thing I think I left here, was really there–mixed between two stacks of something or moved unintentionally by one of us; causing an anxiety-filled quest to find what’s missing. It can become a game of looking for a needle in the haystack and the haystack is only an arm-span wide.
This is when we know it’s time to clean up the kitchen table (again) and set it up to look, well, like a kitchen table should look, I suppose.
I often dream that someday I’ll have my own little studio, a workspace that will become a cozy getaway to have my thinking and my work in an organized mess. It will be lined with bookshelves stacked full of books and journals, a comfy reading chair, sun-filled windows, a couch to nap and dream, and a little counter to drink coffee (and eat cookies).
A place without a kitchen table to make me feel guilty about how a kitchen table should look, I suppose.