there's a desk in my closet.
but wait. let's go back...
this begins with the coffee table my father bought at pier 1 in 1972 for $29.99. (boys, be careful what you buy.) admittedly, an adequate coffee table by 1972 pier 1 standards. my parents used this coffee table until the 1980s, at which time they had me and furniture with sharp eye-poking-out edges and baby-finger-slicing slats no longer seemed prudent.
with haste the death-trap was dispatched to my grandparents' house- where things that have outlived their usefulness go to lie in state. there, the coffee table held court on the patio- beloved, apparently, by my grandmother- for decades. its wood warping under a generation of rainfall. its baby-finger-slicing slats shifting slightly enough that they would ever after upend any drink with the audacity to sit upon them.
this coffee table was my inheritance. and because i was young and stupid and in my first apartment after grad school without a penny to my name and a preponderance of Coffee Table Books on my shelves, i took it. hell, i rejoiced in it, driving down to mantachie to retrieve the damn thing, listening to girl power music all the way. i am a woman with a 33-year-old, badly warped coffee table, hear me roar! and for a moment, it was perfect.
about 71 spilled drinks later, not so much.
this was a coffee table that should have died. nay, should have been put to death. and yet, familial guilt being what it is, i couldn't kill it. my grandmother would kill me. even my mum said so. she really loved that coffee table. so it was carted across memphis twice and came to chicago. i finally trashed it with the last move, but it was all very cloak and dagger, very hush hush. the line, dear God, don't tell your grandmother, was whispered more than once. we are, apparently, a family that cries over furniture, not spilled milk.
with that move, i also threw away a mattress. this time, my mum mourned the loss. not a bed, mind you, but a mattress. a mattress that had originated with an ex-boyfriend but which had somehow come to personify all the reproductive hopes and dreams my mum entertained for me. she fought for that mattress, asking me to keep it until she could come get it, to hold on to it- as though mattress-sized expanses of storage space were readily available. she asked me to save it because it was- in words every single 25-year-old single girl wants to hear, particularly when uttered in quaking, bereft tones- "the grandbaby bed." (forgive me, children i have not yet had. you will be sleeping on the floor.)
for whatever reason, in my family, we do not easily let things go. i know this and i try. i don't return drunken messages. i talk when i'm mad. i clean out my closets. i ruthlessly throw things away. and yet...
so there's a desk in my closet and i want it gone. we've come a long way since pier 1. this is an antique my mum blew $100 on before she discovered things were cheaper in the target home aisle. i have pursued every possible means of extorting permission from my parents to dispose of this desk that has been living in my closet for over a year. and i had them. i really did. a friend was going to take it. we might even take it to the friend. one way or the other, it was going to be gone. then something happened.
something happened to make my mum entirely unreasonable about this desk. suddenly it was an antique that my father couldn't lift, that the friend couldn't come get, that we couldn't leave on the street (despite my very convincing argument that an enterprising homeless person could live a comfy month off the proceeds) and that they couldn't take back to memphis. in other words, it was an antique better off living topsy-turvy in my closest serving as a liter box throne.
my mum and i seldom argue. but when we argue, we argue like this.
by the way, she said. i was talking to gran today. she said she hopes you never get rid of that coffee table. it's such a treasure.