I refinished a piece of furniture. A desk that just so happens to be supporting the computer I am typing on right now. There's a scene in Sex in the City when Carrie and Charlotte go shopping for Carrie's new desk. She says something along the lines of, “It's all about the desk. If you find the desk, the writing will come.” Now I'm not claiming any literary miracles here, but in a sense I can relate. There's something about perfecting the space you write in that makes the writing that much richer.
Refinishing the desk had such a euphoric feel. Immediately after I finished working on it the first day I typed up this little piece to capture the authenticity of what I was feeling.
There was this weird sense of workmanship—where I knew it would have to get a lot worse before it got better for this old, claw-footed desk. I sanded down the years of wear etched onto the frame and couldn't help but fantasize about how beautiful it would soon become. Putting my hands to work, watching them transform something old into something new was in a word, powerful. When I was younger I would often catch my reflection in the mirror and wonder what life would be like when I was 25. How would I look? How would my life be? For a second I was transported back to being 12 years old again, looking in the mirror. I couldn't help but feel a bit giddy. As I sat on the tile floor in my kitchen with the window wide open and the cold, spring air coming in off the Hudson, I realized that this was life. This was me, at 25. Refinishing an old desk, in the very first apartment of many I would share over a lifetime with the man I loved more than words could ever say.
*I received a call from Paul one night around midnight. Woken up out of a dead sleep, I thought I was dreaming when he softly asked me to get dressed (it was midnight) and come down the street to help him lug an old (and very heavy) desk through the neighborhood and up two flights of stairs into our apartment. As the story goes, an old lady down the street had passed away and a relative who was too busy to be bothered with her possessions, was bringing everything she owned out to the street for whatever fate came, be it a garbage truck or trash-pickers like me and Paul. On his way to work that afternoon Paul discovered the desk on the curb, picked it up and placed it back up against the house with a note written on the back of his resume asking the owner to leave the desk there and he would return for it later that night. Sure enough, on his way home, the desk was still there and the two of us lugged it five feet before I broke down into a fit of tired crying/laughing giggles and Paul rendered me useless. Then with a force I didn't know he had, he put the desk on his back and carried it all the way to our bedroom while I followed behind clapping, Hercules, Hercules!
**I'm well aware that for some of you (Mom) the desk was more beautiful with the mahogany showing. I'm also dreading the day some antique collector tells me this desk, originally from Hathaway's Furniture, in New York City from the 1920s, was worth something until I let my creativity and Swiss Coffee, white paint from Behr, ruin it. We did research on what the desk was worth but didn't turn up anything significant. If you are that antique collector, mums the word.