This is a very, very short story of a long marriage that “ends” after thirty-six years with spurts of happiness and much tribulation; the end came over twenty-five years ago. Now that the logistics is out of the way, this numeric information is relevant to the title…the coffee table.
I chose to end the marriage that had been filled little happiness and many tumult periods from the beginning. It is important to know that before ending such a marriage my children were adults. I walked away on a sunny June morning with a suitcase, my dog and a rented car. I did not want anything that was a part of my past. The coffee table bought in the mid-sixties was going to be tossed in the mid-nineties; it had been in the basement of my sons’ home. Cleaning time.
I said yes, I would take it. Somehow it meant something to me; the only thing that I would have from my marriage. This ageless contemporary piece of furniture carried with it many memories. Shopping for furniture in 1979 was during a better time, my then husband and I spent an entire day searching the stores until the one meant for us was found. A few days later the table would be tossed across the room in a rage of madness, the inside frame broken. I repaired the table and it was like new.
It would appear that the coffee table itself was somehow demonic. Over the period of ten-years, the coffee table would split open the chins and one cut above an eye of two boys wrestling in the living room. It placed cuts on grandchildren that tripped and fell on its corners. It left bruises on shins of the entire family who chose to hurry around the object of discussion.
It had its good moments too. It served as desk where hundreds of thousands pages of homework was done. Throughout its “life” served as step stool, craft table, coloring table, and eating and snack table. It has held plants, books and other things during the different seasons. I smile as I think back at the many good times my children and I had sitting around this table when my husband was out of town. We glorified the days without chaos. When I received the coffee table, I painted the dark wood white, a pure color that would remove all turmoil significance. Throughout these past years, it has been repainted the same white many times.
This brings me to the present and for the record, I have stated many times that the table is being held together by the paint. Apparently, it was…my four-year-old grandson used it as a bounce board and then I sat on the table to talk to my granddaughter and poof; I ended its life and an era.
Well you would not believe the “moans” from my children, “ah can’t it be fixed”?
There was no pain in its exodus from my home, well maybe a little as it was heaved into the trash. I suddenly understood that I had held onto it for the memories, memories that are embedded deep within me. The good ones I will keep, the bad will soon be hauled away. I thought about what could have been and never was; time wasted, and I looked for the last time at the only thing that was left of a long marriage… the coffee table.