This past weekend, we saw quite the change in our lives. For my daughter, she moved into her first apartment and started at her first real job. For me, I gave up a piece of my past. We drove over to her new place, a nice little apartment complex in Saint Petersburg. Unfortunately, she’s on a second floor unit, which meant we had to carry everything up a very steep set of stairs. We were so glad to have help!
Among the various knickknacks we brought was one very large item. It was the old coffee table from my youth. My mom had picked it up a long time ago, and back then, it was quite the long legs. She had them cut off and thus it became a nice five-sided, three claw-footed coffee table. One of my baby pictures showed me seated on it, my four brothers sitting around me. In my childhood, I played all manner of games on the table. Years later, when my wife I got our first home, my mother made us a gift of the table and we took a similar picture of our daughter on it.
Over the years, its finish wore a bit and it suffered a degree of damage. Romeo, our smooth-coat collie, chewed the claw feet when he was a puppy. It left quite the lasting impressions! Then, when our daughter announced that she’d lined up her first apartment, she asked if she could have the table. I was a bit hesitant, but agreed.
So, come moving day, I cleared it off, took the Wii controls out from under it, and carried it out to the car. The drive over was long, and yet it seemed over all too soon. The complex was quite large, and we almost got lost in it trying to find her building. Once there, we started to unload. I opened the back of our minivan and hoisted the table out. Holding it there, standing on its edge, I ran my fingers across its surface. Memories flooded across my brain: Playing war with my dad’s chess pieces, doing crossword puzzles, coloring, playing miners under the table, and so on.
It took a bit of doing, but I managed to get the table up the stairs and into the new apartment. It was a heavy load at first, but then it seemed to grow lighter with each step. The living room was a mishmash of boxes and furniture, and I set the table down in a corner. I knew our daughter would give it a good home. Then I helped with the unpacking and moving of the big items. Later, after lunch, we took a break, and I was able to sit and scan the living room. It would be a while before she got things arranged nicely, but it didn’t matter.
Then, just the other day, we got another call from our daughter. She and her boyfriend were starting their first day of work. They were embarking on the journey of their lives together and the table would form a part of that voyage. I know that I’ll have to tell my mother about the table, and I know she’ll be happy to know it has moved on to another generation of the family.
Someday, I hope not too soon, I fully expect another picture of that table, with yet another baby seated upon it. It is funny how a simple piece of furniture can feature so prominently, be so important to the story of a family’s history.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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