One theme. One poet. One memoirist.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


On having furniture.




The transition to adulthood happens slowly and all at once. You wake up one morning and think, “Wow. Things are different.” But then you start to look back at the past few years or months and you realize the change has been happening for a long time. I didn’t notice I was an adult until I’d lived in my apartment for about eighteen months, but when I thought about it, I realized that the shift started to take place when I bought my dining room table.

I had moved into the apartment less than a month before I bought the table. Most of the furniture I had was handed down to me from my mother. A love seat, chairs, side tables that had belonged to her, that had been replaced in recent years as she and Ruth established their home together—these pieces came with me. They came with stories. My bed is cast iron and had been my grandmother’s when she was young. My dresser belonged to a great-grandfather. My mom and dad found the rocking chair at an antique store. The bookcases were new but the books I put on them have tales of their own, and not simply those between the covers. Even the desk, which had been bought as a graduation gift a few months earlier, already came to the apartment with a story—one for which I have yet to be forgiven.

The dining room table was the one major thing I lacked in this new apartment of mine, this new life of mine. It was my first major purchase for my life as a nonstudent. The dining room chairs sat, unassembled, on my living room floor for about a week. They stubbornly refused to be put together. The allen wrench wouldn’t tighten the screws properly, and the pieces wouldn’t line up correctly. And so for a week I allowed them to settle in to the space, to realize that my home is a good place for dining room furniture. It’s a silly thing to say—that these inanimate objects needed to get comfortable. Somehow, though, I thought it might work.

It did. A week after I bought the table and chairs, I assembled them with no problems.

The table is a powerful symbol in Christianity. The altar is where we share our story as followers of Christ; where we come together to celebrate and grieve, be complacent and frustrated, give and receive. The table at home is no different. As I assembled those chairs and that table, I knew it would be a place of gathering and goodness.

I knew it would be a place for stories.


  1. I love this post, Lauren.

    Our dining room table was handed down from his side of the family; it used to be the back of a flatbed truck.

    I like to think about the road it traveled before it parked here, in our home, and where it will take us from meal to meal.

  2. Our table is new but looks old, not unlike a lot of things in our home. When we were purchasing it I was asking this and that about how to care for it. Since we had two small children with us at the time it was apparent it may take a nick or a bang in years to come. One sales lady looked at me and said, it won't stay perfect unless you dress it with a tablecloth, but if you don't, one day you will look back and all of those marks will be memories.