Among the many tasks in my home that should be done daily (maybe several times a day) and yet are done…Weekly? I hope? When did I last do that?…is cleaning off my dining room table.
Tonight, I have a moment. Rolling up my sleeves, I wipe off the crumbs and then spray the table down. It used to be that only Asher really crudded it up. Now that Noah has rejected the high chair, he does too. Selah’s damage has gotten pretty light at this point, now that she’s eight. But she still manages to leave behind the odd crumb and bit of orange rind. My part of the table is surprisingly clean. It’s probably because I almost never sit there for long.
I leave the spray to soak into the oatmeal crud on the boys’ side of the table while I wipe off our side. I go back to the boys’ side, and rub at the spots. And I think.
I bought this table at Cost Plus when I was in college. It still feels kind of new, but that was an increasingly long time ago. It was handsome, and I was proud of it.
My First Piece of Furniture
I did not buy any chairs. Instead, I piled into my pickup truck with my roommates, and we drove to the UCLA campus. Once there, we went out on the roof of some art building–Why? Did one of them know about this?–and voila! It was a free-chair store! I’m sort of thinking/hoping that this furniture was supposed to be discarded anyway. Along with the enormous white board that we also piled into the truck and took home.
Now, I rub the marker stain on the table. I rub this marker stain every time I clean the table.
Yup, Still Permanent
I bump some little odds and ends out of the way and scrub at the oats again. I rub at the scars that have become a significant feature of the tabletop. I rub those scars every time I clean this table.
Yup, Those Are Still There Too
I vaguely wonder where the scars came from. They are pretty deep. It doesn’t seem like normal writing would do that.
I pause. Surprisingly, it turns out that I don’t care that my table is scarred and perpetually has things like this little index card folded into a fan, teddy bear pendant, and Lego on it. I care slightly more about that doggone marker stain, maybe because it seems more likely to rub off someday.
This table, which used to be new and shiny, has been colored on and bears potentially permanent molecules of macaroni noodles and oats. I don’t even try that hard to get them off anymore. And it will surely gather more scratches, marks, and molecules.
I step back. I feel peaceful looking at this semi-clean table. And looking at this messy, scarred table, I feel grateful.