Writers have imaginations. And we use them. And sometimes they use us. Like today when I ‘saw’ what would happen to my marriage and my life if I don’t get a desk soon. Yes—a desk can single handedly destroy a marriage. Here’s exactly how.
First, I don’t have a desk.
And the fact that it is M.I.A. is precisely the root of all marriage evil (well, perhaps I am dramatizing, but…).
What I use as my desk at the moment—because I don’t have a real one like ‘real writers’ do—is our dining table. I love and appreciate this table. But it mustn’t be used as a desk unless one wants a divorce. Or, worse, for your marriage to slowly dissolve into an ambivalent hell but you stay together because it’s too much work to consider the alternative. I do love the table. It’s from Hubby’s Estonian grandmother. It’s teak. It’s Danish. It’s incredibly well crafted. Certainly, they don’t make ‘em like they used to.
It was fine to use the table as a desk when I just had my wee crappy laptop. I could close that little monster, tuck it away, and voilà!, the dining table was ready for proper service. But since I was oh-so-awesomely upgraded to a super sexy ultra thin Mac desktop a couple months ago, the computer stays put and the table says, “I’m a desk. Go eat somewhere else.”
This is a dangerous predicament.
Being dining table-less wouldn’t matter so much if we had some damn bar stools for our glorious new kitchen counter. But we don’t. We are in the throws of what seems to be a never-ending renovation and I am beyond particular about furnishings (if it’s not a hand-me-down, which nearly all our stuff is). So, we have nowhere to sit down properly and eat together, like normal people (except, I fear that too many ‘normal’ people aren’t sitting down together either).
I grew up in a household that ate meals together at the table, uninterrupted by TV, phones and whatever other new distractions modern life might drum up. I took this for granted until I sampled dinnertime at other peoples’ houses. I saw the instant disconnection caused by having a TV on. I heard conversations severed by intrusive answered phone calls. And today in restaurants I see people paying more attention to their bloody iPhones than to each other.
At our house dinnertime was when we all connected. We discussed the triumphs and the bullshit of the day. We set plans and hashed out ideas.
We were a farm family and during harvest or spring seeding when the fields demanded dad miss dinnerhour, we’d either bring him supper in the field and sit together, or wait for him to come in after dark.
When there was eating, there was togetherness.
I vividly remember sitting with him at our wooden kitchen table—with its too-sharp corners which one had to be careful to avoid—as he devoured the warm plate of food. He made me hungry every time because with each bite he took the hard day’s labour would melt away a little and his exhaustion would abate just a smidge. I could see vitality return with every forkful. And we wouldn’t even need to talk every time. Sometimes it was just being there, just to sit together and let the other know, “I see you” (like Avatar) and I’m here with you.
So, you see, without a table to share meals over, how can a marriage (or a family) possibly endure?
Of course, there’s all the rest of life’s problems – but a dining table makes all those challenges do-able, because over a meal we can talk it through. We can connect with each other. We can rest our elbows on the table and our chins in our hands and gaze at each other by candlelight. We can scribble out bucket lists together and do income tax and polish silver.
My imagination took me for a ride today. And it warned me to fetch a desk, on the double! It told me my marriage needs back its dining table. In no uncertain terms my dramatic writerly imagination showed me that a dining table is not for working at, it is what keeps your marriage working.
P. S. I warmly invite the desk shown at top into my life. Please & thank you.
Images: via ScanDesigns & original family photo © Glamorous Monk
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