Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Table Time

[This is a very looooong post. I guess not writing as often has left me kind of backed up and full of things to say. So, I punched out 1500 words for my pleasure and possibly your pain. If you can brave it, go ahead. If not, know that I wax poetic about my table. Poetic, indeed.]

I gushed about my favorite table a while back and that love has only grown stronger. I've been deeply happy with its warm patina and scratches and dents. I love that I got it for free and that it is EXACTLY what I wanted in a table. It reminds me a bit of myself: sturdy, a bit worn, but a true classic. :)

I've acquired a few pieces of furniture the same way I acquired this table--I just made space for them. When I was in college, I wanted a reading chair. I had wanted a reading chair for years and years. But I woke up one morning and I thought, "I must have a reading chair and I must have it soon." At the time, it seemed an absolutely ridiculous thought because I had no money and no resources to acquire such a chair. But that day I cleaned my room and I cleared away a specific spot next to the window for a reading chair. And for weeks every time I looked at that big, open space next to my window, I would think "That is where the reading chair goes." 

I'm still not sure what I was smoking at the time, but I just knew that if I made the space for it, my chair would come. And come it did. A few months later, my sister and her husband moved unexpectedly to Hawaii and I inherited a red reading chair (that she had inherited from my parents) that they could not and did not want to ship to Hawaii. So, it came to me. I remember when the boys hauled it up to my room in the condo and set in the place I had cleared for it weeks before and it fit. Perfectly. I felt like I had found a secret to the universe.

My favorite little side table came to me unexpectedly too, although I paid for it. I was at a conference for work and found a sweet little antique shop next to the hotel. I perused the shop and as I was leaving I noticed on the sidewalk in front of the store this gorgeous round side table that spoke to me. (Literally, furniture does that to me and this one said, "I'm yours, I'm yours!") The price tag said $90. I laughed. I'm not sure I had $90 in my checking account that day. So, I walked by the table a few times that day and the next. Finally, I gathered up my courage and asked the store owner a few questions about the table. It was a 1930s cherry side table. And he was willing to drop the price if I was willing to take it that day. I laughed inside thinking, "Can you drop the price to $25?" He didn't say that, but he did say that he would sell it to me for $45.

SOLD. I didn't even blink. The little cherry side table was coming home. 

That table, in fact, was entirely the inspiration for my favorite dining table that I've been gushing about. When I moved into this apartment a year ago, my mom let me bring a little round table from her house to use as my kitchen table. But I knew it was only a temporary set up. So, I started haunting every furniture store around looking for an appropriate table for my tiny little place. I saw square tables, round tables, rectangular tables, black tables, white tables, and wood tables. Many tables were very, very nice. And many tables were waaaaaaaay too big. And most of them were waaaaaaaay too much.

I knew I needed a small table, but if I was going to invest money in a table it had to be one that I liked and one that would last a long time, because I've found that with most of my design purchases they end up hanging around a lot longer than I expected or planned. So, I wanted something that was quality. 

When I exhausted all the furniture stores in town, I started looking online for some table, any table, that would work in my house. I looked online for weeks, but I just could not find anything that really spoke to me (Remember how furniture does that to me?). Finally, one night, I turned off the computer and sat on my couch and decided to start imagining exactly what I wanted in a table. That is when I glanced into my bedroom and saw my little cherry side table. I loved its graceful curving legs, its little gold claw feet, its warm brown wood. I suddenly wished for a dining table like my little side table.

Then I laughed. Because where in the world would I find a table like that one except in a antique shop where they would likely charge me a fortune for it? 

So, I put the whole table hunt out of my mind. Except I did mention to the family when we were gathered one Sunday that I was looking for a table, so if they heard about one or came across one to please keep me in my mind.

Then several weeks passed.

During Christmas break, my brother-in-law, Spencer, helped move a neighbor. This neighbor was moving from a large home to a much smaller home and was hauling away a lot of things to the thrift store. She had this oval table that was a bit battered that she was giving away. One of the other helpful movers who had a small family said he could use the table. So, they hauled it away to his house. A few days later this helpful mover ran into Spencer and happened to mention that the table was not going to work out for his family, so he was going to haul it to the thrift store. Spencer remembered that I was looking for a table and mentioned that I might want it. Bless him!

The only time that worked for either of us to go look at it or pick it up was on New Year's Eve before all the partying began. I picked Spencer up in my dad's truck and we stopped at the helpful mover's house. He lived in a tiny, cute house with his wife and three kids.

Now, I was nervous when we got there. I realized that this cast-off table was likely not in great condition or likely very attractive. Two people had already sent it packing. I may be walking into a land mine of 1970s oh-so-faux-wood table with uneven legs that had to be propped up on a telephone book. Permanently.

When we walked inside the helpful mover's tiny house, I noticed their dining table right away. It was nice, serviceable, and certainly on the not-so-attractive side. What!!!!!! If they had rejected the table that I had come to look at then what kind of horror was I about to behold? I had to prepare myself. And fast.

The tiny house was far too tiny to hold two dining tables so we followed the helpful mover out to the back patio and the snow-encrusted yard to see the table. It was dark and bitter cold and the backyard was lit by only one dim outdoor light. The table was in the darkest corner covered by a blue plastic tarp. I held my breath as he pulled off the tarp unsure of what I was about to see and realizing I would likely spend my New Year's Eve hauling away a very ugly table.

As the tarp slid off the table, I caught a glimpse of a curving leg and a hint of a graceful oval top. I moved closer to the table and touched it. The light was so dim I could only guess at what kind of condition it was in, but its lines certainly looked amazing. I wondered if it could be possible that the table I had dreamed about had just landed in my lap.

As the guys hefted it out to the truck, I followed behind them in a state of near shock. Was this table really along the same lines as my little 1930s cherry side table? Was this the table that I certainly wanted, but didn't believe I would find? Was this table really real or when I got it under the harsh glare of incandescent light would it reveal a giant flaw?

All I knew as I crunched in the snow down that cold, icy driveway was that I had to get out of there quickly before either the helpful mover or his wife changed their minds. Because I knew even before I looked at it too closely, that this table and I were destined to be together. For a long, long time.

P.S. This post makes me sound like a bragging little twit. Really, it is just a reminder to myself that occasional miracles do occur in my life and I should record them and attend to them on the many, many days that my life does not feel so miraculous. 

P.P.S. I made a step a couple of weeks ago to improve the future of the table. It came to me with two broken legs held together by wires and glue. So, I took it to a furniture restoration guy, who seems to have decent respect for the table. He says it is from the 1930s and is made of mahogany. He said the leg fractures are because the design of the curved legs. He can fix them and he is going to strip down the whole piece and re-stain it for me so the table and I can have many more years together. Keep your fingers crossed for me. 


Eden said...

Knock, knock. Hello? Is this thing on?

Did anyone read this? Or was it just way too intimidating? Or were you bored out of your skull? Go ahead, I can take it. Really, believe me. I can take it.

Just be gentle.

Cissy said...

I read it and enjoyed it and envied it. Isn't there an interior design magazine out there that needs this as its introspective last page article?


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