THE TABLE is too big now. I remember my mother’s words when we purchased it all those years ago – 33, to be exact:
“Who are you planning on feeding, the Kennedy’s?”
At the time, we had a big eat-in kitchen and a small table. We were a growing family (#3 was on the way) with a growing circle of friends who loved to gather at each other’s homes. We needed a table that sat more than four.
“If the Kennedy’s wish to come, they are more than welcome,” I said.
Ma shook her head. Daddy warned me, “With a table that size, your house will turn into family headquarters.” He didn’t want me burdened in that way.
It was the largest expenditure of our married life, excluding cars and the house.
But I had a vision.
Vision … but little experience.
Vision … with a hitch. It included breaking out of my shell, daring to invite people.
Vision … but no clue the number of times we’d move household – FIVE! NJ to PA to OH (2 different homes there) to KY. And we aren’t even military or Methodist ministers.
“There’s no room in my address book for any more changes!” someone protested two moves ago.
The table went right along with us.
There have been a lot of faces and a lot of mismatched chairs, pulled up, drawn into the circle.
* * *
NOW, just the two of us and a dog, we have a small kitchen. And the big table? It’s too big.
It’s not cozy.
It’s not attractive.
It’s not a magnet for socializing.
What it is is a catch-all and a launch pad for the dog. He goes from chair to table and, from there, to whichever countertop appeals to him most (only when we’re not home – otherwise, he has company manners).
For the 8 months we’ve been here, I have justified keeping it with plans to invite this one, that one and the entire Sunday School class, our support group, my ESL coworkers, the neighborhood and anyone else I can grab off the streets.
I can do all those things without this table.
* * *
A NEW KITCHEN FLOOR is being installed today. Even as I type this, a polite young man is sawing and piecing the wood in place.
A few nights ago I said, “We need to move that table out of the kitchen so the new floor can be laid, and when we do, I have a feeling I won’t want it back in there.”
It felt a little like pulling a plug. On what exactly? I don’t know.
Last night we moved it. Not out the door, but just one room over to the far end of the family room. I need to call someone to pick it up, but not yet. I’m going to let it sit there a bit. I’m going to think about it.
I’m going to think about
all the youth group kids over the years,
the family gatherings in different houses,
Gram and Pop, now gone.
I think of my folks, too, though they rarely sat.
I think about the children that hid under it, the cousins, giggling, thinking nobody knew they were there.
I think about college decisions made at it, engagements announced, phone calls taken……
There’s the imprint of the crossword puzzle Pop did without anything underneath the page to protect the veneer. I’d rather have the impression made by his hand than a perfect anything.
AND and and…….I see the spot where the icing from the gingerbread house we 4 girls made together one Christmas left a haze on the finish that I never was able to remove. We’re down to 3 girls now. Can I let go of that haze? Is it the haze I’m having the problem with?
Everyone in the family’s been asked.
Nobody wants it.
Nobody has room, and they don’t foresee having room in the future, or else I’d hold onto it for them.
Nobody needs to feel guilty about this.
I need to make room for the life I am living now, I keep telling myself.
Someone at Goodwill is going to see this table and capture a vision. Maybe someone expecting #3, someone with a group of friends who like to gather. OR perhaps an artist needing space to spread things out.
It has a future.
So do I.
But part of carving out a life is letting go of what isn’t needed and making space for what is.
Hey, Ma! The Kennedy’s never came, but a lot of other super people did!