Monday, July 7, 2014

A Place More Kind Than Home

My friend Aileen and I have been trading writing exercises as a way to sharpen our dulled writing skills. This week's, chosen by moi, was for us to write a Dear John letter from our favorite piece of furniture.

Please keep in mind that I took poetic license with elements here, so this is merely based on some facts (Sorry, Mom, I'm sure the Barrister wasn't really disappointed to be in your room. And there really haven't been any actual close calls, just many imagined ones that have made me a bit sick to my stomach...).

Dear Hanna,

I loved your grandmother very much even though I was not the center of her life. She brought me in to her home many years ago. I thought I was on my way to displaying valuables or even holding her husband’s important ledgers; however, to my disappointment she put me in your mother’s room where I housed your mother’s and aunt’s doll furniture like some sort of giant dollhouse. I came to accept this as my lot in life; at least I was out of the way of your rowdy uncle’s ever bouncing soccer ball. 

Things began to look up as the children left the nest and your grandparents made the long move to Vermont. They kept me even as they got rid of some of the lesser furniture (I was relieved that some of the coarser elements in the household were sold off. That bookshelf had always leered lasciviously at me from down the hall.)

I had hoped that I would have a more prominent placement in the new home and was thrilled to hear that I would be placed downstairs in the dining room for all to see. I looked forward to holding your grandmother’s beautiful wedding place settings or some of the lovely blue glassware she collected on lamp buying expeditions with your grandfather.

It was sadly not to be, however, as I was placed in the front entry hallway between the dining room and the living room. It took me years to realize the full disappointment of this placement. The family always gathered in the kitchen, and visitors did not come to the front door but to the side door down the hall. The hallway was merely a passageway between two destinations. Only children seemed to linger by my side with all others walking purposefully past without a glance in my direction.

I tried to find the bright side to my situation. I now held exotic, one-of-a-kind dishes and goblets. I had the company of a whole menagerie of animal serving dishes and pitchers-chickens, ducks, moose, a kitten, and even a bunny or two. I was safe from the clumsiest of newly walking grandchildren as they did not usually venture to the uneven slate floor on which I rested. But I could never quite see what was going on in the household-it was always maddeningly just out of reach, around the smallest of corners to my left or right.

I was devastated for your grandmother the day that your grandfather died, and devastated for myself when I discovered that your grandmother had died (I contend that it was of a broken heart), but I held out hope that I would go to one of the grandchildren who would care for me as your grandmother did. I had high hopes when I discovered you had claimed me (though immense trepidation to find how far I would have to travel to get to you). It was a terrifying and very bouncy ride though thankfully your father is a very thorough packer, meticulously wrapping each of my glass doors.

It was a happy few years at the center of your home, as I was able to continue displaying much of your grandmother’s dishes and even continued to have one of my chicken friends keeping me company. Yes, I had to get used to the hustle and bustle again (your house is much louder than your grandparents’ had been for many years), but I have not survived the past 100 years by being entirely inflexible. These old wood slats can still bend a bit.

However, I come to the point of this letter. This past year has required too much from me. There have been too many close calls as you have been distracted with broom and mop handles. There have been too many moments of frozen panic as a chair pushed quickly back from the table has nearly toppled into me, and there have been too many instances of last second snatches of that damnable wooden xylophone mallet from your feral toddler as she headed directly toward my delicate glass doors. (Pardon my language; I must take a moment to collect myself.)

Do you know how many years these curved glass panels have survived? I have not made it this far to see them smashed in a moment of mayhem! And let me point out that nearly every moment in your once quiet household is now filled with mayhem. I cannot live like this. My blood pressure is as elevated as my once exalted status as the best piece of furniture you own. Now, however, instead of being a source of pride, I am merely a liability.

Don’t think that I don’t know you now gaze at my pristine glass with dread. You and I both know that you would have a nearly impossible time trying to replace one of these panels should when your little hellion darling finally destroys me. I can no longer just sit and accept my fate. I am leaving for safer accommodations. I’m sure there’s a racetrack or bowling alley somewhere that requires a trophy case. Lord knows they’ll be quieter than your dining room.

Barrister Bookcase