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Pull up a chair (repost from Wordpress)

The first time I remember hearing anyone express a political opinion, I was sitting at a brown formica kitchen table. It was at my grandmother’s house (my mom’s mom, who I called “Nan”), and she was listening to a newstalk radio station. Torontonians were calling in to complain about Quebec, I don’t remember why specifically, and my nan muttered something along the lines of “that damn Trudeau has made Quebeckers think they can have anything they wanted”. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was really excited to listen.

Kids hear a lot of things for the first time at tables, especially if their family isn’t big enough to have a “kids’ table”, which mine wasn’t. So when the adults would eventually get tired of making small talk with us, they would turn to each other and have discussions about current events and movies I wasn’t allowed to watch and other peoples’ relationships. I have no idea how much I understood or misunderstood, but I knew that once we left the table the kids and the grownups would stop hanging out together. I always wanted to be around adults when I was young, so I would stall at the table as long as possible.

When I was 25 years old, my now ex-husband and I moved into the main floor apartment at 2040 Maynard, a duplex in North End Halifax. My upstairs neighbours were my friends, but also intimidating celebrities. Kate Greenaway was the head of Medical Students for Choice, and Marshall Haywood managed a feminist sex toy/book shop called Venus Envy.

Their apartment was perfect.  The kitchen floor was black and white tiles, their bathroom window ledge was decorated with colourful dildos, and their patio had flower boxes with tomatoes and herbs. There was always great music playing. To me, though, the heart of the space was a giant wooden table that I'm pretty sure Marshall had built.

I never felt completely at ease in that apartment, because I never felt completely at ease in my 20's, but there were some moments of grace. Most of these involved sitting at that table with Kate and Marshall and their friends, until the tea was cold and we were being nostalgic about jokes we'd made only hours before. I would stall at that table, too, feeling again like a kid among adults, even though we were all the same age.

In every place I’ve lived since, I have made sure to have a table big enough for at least a couple of people to sit at. In Edmonton, Jesse and I had a great 50’s table that we sold before we moved to Ottawa, where we bought a big dinner table from Ikea. I loved sitting those tables together, doing crosswords and having meals and talking about our day. It’s one of the things I miss the most. When I moved to Toronto and Jesse moved in with Kira, Lili ended up with our dining room table. In May, she moved to Toronto, too, where she now lives with JJ. Seeing my old table in their apartment always knocks the wind out of me a little; it feels haunted.

Writing this entry made me realize how much tangible evidence there is that tables preoccupy me. I can never walk past one on the street without bringing it home.  In the 600 square foot apartment I am about to move out of, I at one point had three tables: one in the middle of my bedroom, one taking up my entire balcony, and one crammed in my kitchen. I love eating at this last one with my friends, but I am fully aware of the fact that it doesn't exactly ... work.

I’m about to move again, and had no idea how to put a table and chairs in this new apartment. I figured maybe I wouldn't get to, remembered that a lot of my friends didn't have them, and tried to feel like it would be alright to eat/chat on my couch.

The thing is, I find couches to be a sort of awkward. I never know how to situate myself. How you face the person? Do you turn your head? Do you turn your whole body? What if there is more than one person? Do you all sit in a row? How do you know where to put your hands so you look natural and relaxed? How do three people on a couch have a conversation? I find it really trying to even think about. Couches are great for sitting on and watching something together, but since the only TV I have is my laptop, piling on the bed works just as well for that.

So in an ongoing effort to keep trusting myself, I decided that my next apartment won’t have a couch or a living room. I’ll have a deck (with a picnic table), a kitchen, a dining room, and a bedroom with a futon that can fold into a couch if the situation ever calls for it. When I came to this conclusion, I was instantly so relieved. I took to Craigslist to find the perfect table. Not a table that I found on the street or bought because it was small enough to fit in the space I had available, but a table that was going to be given its own room. A table my friends would sit around and gossip and craft. A table I could write cards at if I wanted to, if I ever progress to the point where I am someone who has stamps.

I found it! A 25 year old was selling the table he grew up eating at. I went and picked it up in a taxi van and now it is waiting in Jairus's garage for me to move in my new apartment with it. It is solid and maple and gorgeous and has leaves that fold out at the sides and I will sit at it with some of you and I will sit at it alone and I'll shoo the cats off of it and I'll let it get too piled with papers.

I am also looking forward to this table being a place where Nico, Theo, Isadora, and my other small friends can hang out with adults and overhear our conversations. Maybe they won't understand them right away but I hope they enjoy themselves and feel included. If they prolong things by stalling, I'll be really really happy.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 27th, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC)
that is one fine table.
Jul. 28th, 2013 01:02 am (UTC)
I never thought about it before but I did that a bit myself, hung out at the adults table longer than I probably 'should' have. One of my other aunts (usually at different family gatherings) would always try to turn me away from the adult conversation and engage me in 'younger' conversation when I was really interested in what the adults were talking about. I know she was trying to shelter me, but I always got so frustrated with it. Years later when I technically was an adult, I still felt like the kid at the adults table with my dad and aunt and uncle chatting away and would sit there just enjoying listening to them go on and on.
Jul. 28th, 2013 12:37 pm (UTC)
A home without a table is an abomination.
Jul. 28th, 2013 09:47 pm (UTC)
This was a joy to read! I'm glad you found your table.
Jul. 30th, 2013 01:42 pm (UTC)
very cool entry. very cool table.
Jul. 30th, 2013 04:18 pm (UTC)
This is so lovely. I want to sit at your table!

I so hear you about couches. Especially when it's the only seating, and you are with people you want to talk to but you are just all sitting there facing the same direction but you can't see anyone's faces, unless someone scoots forward and turns, which feels temporary and weird. I also hate sitting in restaurant booths next to someone you want to talk to, because you can't see their face unless you turn, but when you turn you are violating all sorts of personal space and probably hygiene/spittle rules, so you pull back your face awkwardly, but then you remember that your food and also the other people are in front of you, so eventually you just melt into a puddle of social anxiety flop-sweat and use your napkin to wave at another approaching friend outside while saying "Bon Voyage!" at them through a closed second-floor window. You know, HYPOTHETICALLY.
Aug. 1st, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you found your table :-)

At our house we have two tables that came from our grandmothers. One is taken apart in our closet, the other is in our kitchen. Sadly, we don't have room for either of them, really, but you can bet your [something valuable] that we'll find a way to keep them around!
Jan. 15th, 2014 09:49 pm (UTC)
Hi! I noticed that you added me as a friend. We seem to have a few friends in common - have we ever met in person? :)
Jan. 17th, 2014 06:34 pm (UTC)
Hi!! I'm sorry! I saw the thread on Kym's wall and got excited about people using LJ again and added everyone in there who posted their LJ name!
Jan. 17th, 2014 06:37 pm (UTC)
Hi again! No need to apologize. I'll always happy to meet new people. Seeing as you're based in Toronto and we have friends in common, I'm surprised we haven't met yet and I imagine it's just a matter of time until we do. ;)
Mar. 18th, 2014 08:21 am (UTC)
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Mar. 29th, 2014 08:58 am (UTC)
hey, I'm finally adding you as a friend... it seems like you and I have a good number of mutual LJ friends (and also facebook friends!) so I feel like it's a good move!
Mar. 29th, 2014 09:02 am (UTC)
also... nice table. and this bit pretty much sums up my lifestyle goal...

"Their apartment was perfect. The kitchen floor was black and white tiles, their bathroom window ledge was decorated with colourful dildos, and their patio had flower boxes with tomatoes and herbs. There was always great music playing. To me, though, the heart of the space was a giant wooden table that I'm pretty sure Marshall had built."

I want a shelf of dildos in my house!
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May. 14th, 2014 03:21 pm (UTC)
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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )



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