We had our first house in Milwaukee. I still had several years to go in my Ph.D. program but Jason was starting his first faculty job. It was the first time that either of us had a long-term job in our chosen careers. We assumed that this meant that we were on the way to being settled in the lives of adults so we acquired an old Victorian home on city’s east side. Money was always tight but yet I had this big beautiful house with no furniture to put in it. One of the pieces of furniture I bought was a formal mahogany dining table and chairs.
A few years later we moved to Vermont. We decided we wanted to have a more modest mortgage payment and, correspondingly, a simpler and smaller home. We figured we could always move into something else after a few years. We brought our furniture from Milwaukee and sold off what we couldn’t squeeze in to the new house. It is very clear that our furniture was not acquired for this house and the dining table is the most striking example of that. We don’t have a formal dining room and the woodwork in the house is honey-colored. Our mahogany dining table stands awkwardly in the kitchen and it’s impressive size makes it inefficient and a bit of a tight fit for folks sitting on the far side.
I held on the to the table despite it’s lack of fit because I loved it and thought that eventually I would find a way to accomodate it (e.g. remodeling the kitchen, adding an extension) but a couple of months ago I decided that when I got back from Sweden it would be time to sell my beautiful mahogany trestle table. When Jason asked why I explained that it was very unlikely that the table would ever be a good fit for our living spaces. It was a table for another life in another place and we were on a different path. He agreed.
When we returned to Vermont I was dismayed to find the table had taken quite a beating. The table top’s finish was marred by at least a dozen rings left by hot and cold glasses. My first reaction was horror in the face of the poor treatment of a beautiful piece of furniture. My second reaction was anger as I realized that the table had lost hundreds of dollars in resale value. As those sentiments fade, however, they are overshadowed by a kind of pragmatic melancholy. In light of the death of the dog I adopted as one of my very first expressions of young adult independence and in the face of the ruin of the table and other poor-housesitting impacts centering around the loss or destruction of various glasses and tableware, serving bowls and a salad bowl all of which I have had since my very first apartment, I feel the reality of a life transition (young adulthood has past, I am just a regular old grown-up now), the pragmatic consequences of my life choices (you cannot live away from your home for months at a time if you are too attached to your stuff), and wonderment in the face of the fact that the amazing life that I am living was inconceivable to me 8 years ago when I bought a table that I expected I would keep for always.
It is a sad to think of the roads I have abandoned but it is thrilling to think of the adventurous paths that I will wander in the future.