Defining spaces has become my new obsession.
We’re in the middle of an expansive remodel, I’m teaching hybrid (half my students in the classroom, half on Zoom), and I’m having a world of trouble letting go of the old to make room for the new.
As you know I’ve been giving myself over to Sam Harris every morning for approximately eight to ten minutes. He’s fabulous and I’m enjoying his casual style and silky smooth voice.
Sam is my meditation instructor, he takes me through a brief time of quiet, respite, and daily restoration. Every morning I sink into this blissful calm, almost tranquil state of mind, it’s as if I’ve been soaking in a hot tub with bath salts.
I get in a comfortable position, nestled in my bed, it’s not ideal, but the pillows are just right. I click the link on my phone, close my eyes, and melt in to Sam’s melodious instructions.
He starts by asking me to pay attention to my breath.
How hard could that be?
Well let me fill you in, It’s like catching fish with your bare hands, our thoughts are slippery, and they come in vast schools.
My blood pressure slows to a trickle as I allow my thoughts to slither away. It’s quiet for a couple of minutes when Sam asks me to pay attention to the sounds that come into my awareness. I pick up the sound of a bird chirping, an airplane in the distance, I can hear the dryer is going in the next room, and then my stomach growls which reminds me we have no kitchen, food issues take center stage, as I try to refocus on the birds.
Somewhere between birds, dryers, and my stomach growling I start worrying about selling our old kitchen table, if a black backsplash is the right way to go, and if leather couches are too cold to sit on?
This is when I hear a text message has come in on my phone. It’s killing me not to open my eyes and check the message, but I resist. I assume it must be Julie checking in on dinner plans tonight.
The next thing I hear is my phone ringing. What the hell? I gallantly ignore the persistent buzzing and continue with anxiety about meals, tables, and countertops.
This is when I hear Larry’s phone ring which he answers from his office, he says, “hi Kelley. No I didn’t feel anything.” I hear him walking towards my room.
He enters the room, I peek out of one eye, and hold my hand up while stressing, “I’m meditating, go away.”
He says with a little sarcasm, “Mom’s meditating,” and he plops himself next to me on the bed, he’s holding his computer with my daughter and her husband Tim staring at me from the screen as if I’m meshugana?
They’re on FaceTime. See what I mean about how difficult it is to define my personal space?
Total fail, I click the pause button, Sam’s melodic voice disappears, as I position myself on the wobbly shelf of judgment which can be destabilizing.
I ask, “How are you two doing?”
Kelley says, “we’re great, you had an earthquake last night.”
Larry says, “it was only a 2.8, you don’t feel those, especially if you’re sleeping.”
After catching Kelley and Tim up on the status of the remodel, I get up and throw on sweats, the urge to relax has long since passed.
The electrician is coming in a few days and we have to decide where we want all the lighting to go, where we need electrical plugs, and switches.
Here’s the problem, we don’t know where we are going to put the kitchen table, seems to be a popular issue these days.
Thirty years ago I squirreled away every penny I could find so I could buy this huge round table I had my eye on for a over year. They agreed to sell me the floor model for a hefty discount, it had a few scratches, but it was made of solid wood, with a huge lazy susan, and seats eleven in a pinch. I believe we all came to love this table, it harbors decades of family memories, but it has always been too big for the space designated as the dining room.
Until recently, when I had this brilliant idea, which has been hotly debated, but hey, I’m already on the wobbly shelf of judgement. I decided that we should switch the dining room with the family room. Buy a rustic farm table, center it in the bigger room, with a mirror and a really cool light. Oh how I danced around the gutted house with this brilliant but evasive vision. As Shauna Niequist says, those of us who believe that all of life is sacred every crumb of bread and sip of wine is a Eucharist, a remembrance, a call to awareness of holiness right where we are.
What would they do without me?
We already put the old piano and sectional couch out on the curb with a big free sign, Julie and Kelley posted it on social media, and as if a miracle they were picked up in a few hours.
Next, I put up a folding table in the driveway, Larry was not pleased, but everyday I would add vases, bowls, linens, rugs, light fixtures, trays, bunk beds, speakers, puzzles, cookbooks, and such to the pile. And each day I would marvel as the pile slowly dwindled. It felt good to know someone wanted and would use the things we no longer needed.
I was feeling rather Kondoish, I had simplified the entire house, and we would now live with only the requisite.
I mentioned to our dear friend Jim that I was looking for a solid wood farm table, that it was disappointing to discover tables are now made with veneers which crack and peel after a while. He’s been dabbling in furniture making and decided he could make a farm table from reclaimed wood with a metal base for a smidgen of the cost of a laminate table. Problem solved.
Recently I’ve been waking up at three in the morning, after acquiescing to my bodily needs, I noodle on things, and of course I had an epiphany which I was compelled to share.
I shake Larry’s arm, “honey, you awake?”
He says, “no,” there was an edge to his voice I might add.
“But you’re talking?”
“I’m trying to sleep,” emphasis on the last word.
I’m not easily discouraged, “but I had an epiphany.”
“Tell me in the morning.” He rolls over. Rude.
“I might forget.”
“Then it’s not an epiphany.” He adjusts the covers over his ears.
I mumble something about Jesus having the same issue with his disciples.
“I not your disciple.”
“Oh ye, of little faith.”
In the morning I admit I was not the best version of myself, but the electrician was coming and I had a completely new plan to actualize.
As soon as Larry brought me coffee (we set up coffee service in the laundry room, our only haven of civility) I leap out of bed, promptly drag Larry down to the demolished parts of the house, and with complete confidence I say, “we’re going back to the original plan.”
He scratches his head, “remind me.”
“We’re keeping our round table, we’ll move the hutch into the other room, which gives us more space in here, and we’ll create a little conversation area over there (I point), and now you can keep the section around the wine bar open like you wanted.”
“So no farm table?”
“And no leather couch in here?”
“And no new lighting?”
“Let’s not get crazy, we’ll need a new light over the old table, probably a bistro set for the wine bar, a few pieces for the sitting area, maybe a rug to define the space, and a really cool coffee table for appetizers.” I stand back with both hands on both hips, a very satisfied look spread across my face.
“This is your epiphany?” He looks incredulous.
I talk slowly, as if speaking to a small child, “we’re saving a lot of money on a table.”
He holds back his unruly hair with both hands, looks around, and says, “we’re spending way more than we’re saving.” He likes to call this mission creep, which is just creepy in my opinion.
“It depends on how you look at it, we’re keeping our beloved kitchen table, and you can’t put a price on love.”
He looks at me as if I just grew horns?
I say, “Honey, you better call Jim and cancel our customized farm table. Do you have time to run to Ethan Allen later today?”
“If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health,” says Shauna Niequist
So a few days later we’re driving to breakfast, because Larry’s breakfast buddy, Steve, has moved away, and I’ve become the egregious substitute.
I say, “I put the old rocking chair out on the curb yesterday with a free sign and it was gone in less than an hour.”
Larry says, “So you’re paying someone to fix the broken rocking chair and you gave away the one that works?”
“Exactly,” I smile, the choice seems so obvious, “the broken one my grandfather made and as you know love has no price tag.”
“Or limits apparently.”
“I’ve become a minimalist.”
“Let’s hope I don’t get put out on the curb?”
I look at him over the rim of my glasses, “I’ve considered it,” giving him a cheeky smile.
“I’m a classic.”
“There’s not a lot of demand for 60’s models and you require a lot of maintenance.”
“But I still work.”
I’m Living in the Gap, leaving things on the curb, come by and check it out.
- “Everyone has a price”, as they say. So let the price on your tag say “PRICELESS” “INVALUABLE” “IRREPLACEABLE” Omoakhuana Anthonia
- I don’t want to live life too cautiously. I mean, you can step off a curb and twist your ankle. Rickie Fowler
- “To gather together around a table – the ultimate symbol of communion – is the only truly authentic way to properly prioritise the ritual of eating.” Michelle Ogundehin
- “To those of us who believe that all of life is sacred every crumb of bread and sip of wine is a Eucharist, a remembrance, a call to awareness of holiness right where we are.” Shauna Niequist