Saturday, April 30, 2011

Seeking Placemats

I just bought my first dining room table.

I have my first dining room, so it seems appropriate. Not appropriate but necessary. Decadent. Like a landmark in my rattled wonky wonderful life. I was keeping an eye open for a table before I even moved into the new place. A standard selection to be found in thrift stores and craigslist: Ikea particle board tables, horrendous ornate wrought iron with ugly upholstered chairs, shellacked black wood lacquer with metal straight back chairs and leather seats. That is not appropriate. Not with the way I like to dine.

I then gave myself permission to buy something beautiful, something unique. Something older but sturdy. Practical but with character. A table where I could eat breakfast by myself in the easterly light of the window with a newspaper and a French press filled with coffee, or a late supper for two where utensils are optional. I imagine my friends sitting there, imbibing and being competitive over games and filling each other in on the weeks events. I wanted it to fit 8 but I am settling for 6. That might work out because I don’t even think I own 8 plates.

My parents had the same dining room table my entire life. It definitely seated 8 though I think they managed to always make room for more. It was a thick heavy slab of glass sitting a top an iron grate. It was gorgeous but intense. What I remember most about it was what a pain it was to clean. Whoever was clearing the table that night would have to grab the Windex and wipe away all the food and fingerprint smudges of that meal, all the intensity and problems and solutions that would arise during our dinners. We often left that table with our concerns and issues in mid air. Our bellies full but a heaviness looming.

That table got sold along with all the other furniture I grew up around.
My parents took great care to handpick all the furniture we lived with for twenty plus years. Mostly antiques, but livable warm earthy antiques that traveled with us from house to house all over the west side of Los Angeles. When they up and moved to another country 8 years ago they sold the majority of their belongings. I was living in Europe with no home or storage unit of my own. So any inheritance of these pieces, the welsh dresser from the 1800’s, the massive wooden couch I spent most of life lying on, the wooden kitchen table that was stained with berries and orange juice and pencil marks from homework, that mammoth glass dinner table which hosted endless dinner parties and my parents phenomenal cooking, none of it remains.

So instead of buying a cheap white formica table to fill the empty space in my new dining room, I went with a vintage handmade wooden table that seats 6. I am guessing it’s from the 40’s but what do I know? It could very well have been made in 1973. It has an extra leaf tucked away to extend and make room for the expected and unexpected. It’s base is rounded and curved like an art deco piece. It is heavy but hopefully not too heavy to carry up the stairs to my new cottage.

I have been eating on the floor for the last 5 years. Eating on my bed or a bolster or on the stoop of my old place. And I am hoping it fits easily through the narrow door and lives happily against the wall and the window of my bright dining room. I think my cat might love resting on its dark wood, although I promise to always wipe it off before you come over to eat.

No comments:

Post a Comment