You don’t realize how much something means to you until you let it go.
As part of our recent move, my roommate and me got rid of some furniture. We placed the pieces out on the curb, and waited for passing cars to slow down and take them off our hands. The sun was shining, and my roommate told me it was a perfect day for yard sales. I haven’t been to too many, but I knew he was a yard sale veteran, and his logic made sense. It was one of the first truly beautiful days of the spring, and it hinted at a beautiful summer. It also seemed to be the death knell for what had been a relentless winter.
One by one, the pieces of furniture disappeared until only one was left. I had a feeling it would go this way, but there my wooden desk sat, a desk from my childhood. It had a wide drawer just under the flat part of the desk, and many other drawers for storage. It had a cover that opened up like a wavy garage door, and it was the same shade of golden brown all the way through. It had been a painstaking decision to get rid of it. There was a lot of emotion tied up in that desk, and yet, it had never been the desk I’d wanted it to be. There was only one reason I’d kept it for as long as I had.
It was a present from Dad.
When I was young, I loved to draw. My Dad laid down a thin piece of wood, maybe plywood, across two crates, and that became my desk. “Not too shabby,” as Dad would say. It was simple desk, but it afforded me plenty of space. I could spread out my implements and let my imagination run wild. When I got older, I constantly wanted new and flashy things, but when I was young, that desk was perfection. It was my desk, and I was free to do with it what I pleased. The desk made no attempts to confine or rein in my creativity in any way. It was conducive to drawing, and it seemed to spur my creativity, or maybe that’s just the association I formed with it. I never gave the desk too much thought when I was that age, but I absolutely loved it.
I’m not sure why Dad bought me a new one. Maybe he wanted to do something nice for me, or maybe he took a look at what I was using for a desk and decided that I could use something a little nicer, an upgrade. What replaced my favorite old desk was the golden brown desk that now sat in the driveway, and even though I tried to love it as much as I had loved the previous one, we just didn’t click. It was too ordered, almost constricting. I drew less and less as I got older, not necessarily due to the desk (maybe I was already on that trajectory anyways), but I just didn’t take to the desk in the same way. With all its compartments, it wanted to keep me organized and tidy. If you know me at all, you know that I’ve been called a lot of things, but that organized has never been one of them.
Despite my conflicted feelings, when it came time to make a decision about the desk, I dragged my feet. Moving is always an emotional time, and I’m sure that emotion didn’t make my decision any easier. As we both moved our possessions to our respective vehicles, my eyes were glued to the sidewalk. I started to second-guess my decision. Maybe the desk would work in my new apartment. Maybe I should keep it. I’d let go of so many other things that Dad gave me, including a stereo and a car, and maybe it would be nice to keep something for a change. That desk wasn’t the first place I started writing, but when I wrote about the day’s events when my Dad was in hospice, that was the desk I used. May it wasn’t a drawing desk, but a writing desk. I wanted someone to pull up and make the decision for me. I wanted someone to take it before I changed my mind.
I’m writing this post from a table that was something like $10 at Salvation Army. It used to be my roommate’s, and he gave it to me for my new apartment. One night, I missed the placemat with a hot mug of tea, and there’s a giant white ring on the tabletop to show for it. I’m not sure what it is I like about it, but it’s everything I need, and it’s the perfect height for typing. This little kitchen table that we rarely ate on became the perfect place for me to spill out my thoughts and post on my blog. I didn’t intend for it to happen, but I don’t associate this table with anything else besides writing, and all of the writing I did during the year and a half I spent in my apartment in Medford.
Things in our life choose us, not the other way around. Sure, you can make decisions, but these decisions have to take, they have to hold you the way that you hold them. They have to want us back, and if there’s an imbalance or asymmetry, the relationship breaks down. So many decisions in life are made without you realizing it. I had no intentions of using this table as a place to write, but that’s what it became to me. I thought about leaving it behind or getting rid of it, but I’m glad I kept it. I love having something from my old apartment, and I look forward to many good years of writing on it.
A man approached me in the driveway and asked about the desk. He told me he’d be back in twenty minutes to take it, so we each grabbed an end and moved it off the street. I hoped that the desk was going to a good home. Hopefully, someone can put it to good use. More than that, even if the desk didn’t spur a ton of creativity in me, maybe it could work wonders for someone else. It’s a beautiful desk, and despite how old it is, I hope that someone enjoys that desk for years to come.
The guy left, and I snapped a few pictures of the desk as it sat in the driveway. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them, but it seemed to be the appropriate panic move for the moment. I walked up to the telephone pole at the end of the driveway and removed the cardboard sign on which my roommate had written, “Free”. It was time to let go, to move on. Dad wouldn’t have wanted me to keep the desk if I didn’t want it. He would have been practical about my new place and the space I didn’t have, and thinking about that makes me miss him all the more. I hope someone loves the desk he gave to me, and that someone loves it the way I should have. Thanks for reading.