I found myself fishing for dropped things under the dining room table and I stopped, wondered what it would feel like to lie down* there, stretched out, face up to the table’s underbelly. So I did. I thought first about the twelve years we’ve owned and lived in this house, how twelve years ago I’d crawled on my belly over most of its floors prying out carpet staples, feeling like I was helping heal old wounds – the past owner had died here, along with her dog – and feeling like I was making love to my first real home since my father died in 1986. Fingers on wood, newly uncovered.
Even so, never in twelve years had I laid like this under the dining room table. I felt good there. Calm, timed out of everything else. And I remembered why that might be. I used to sit or lie under the table in the formal dining room, in the house I grew up in. Everything was nicer, finer, and the table itself was supported by two pedestals with three feet each, in fact the carved feet of some unclear animal, so I couldn’t fully stretch lengthwise like I was doing now in my own house. But I’d hide between the chairs there, fancy wooden chairs upholstered in red and white satin stripes.
I once laid under that beast-footed table and talked to my friend Jennifer on our black, phone company-issued rotary phone for an hour. In the circle that was the downstairs of our home, the dining room was three o’clock and the kitchen was nine o’clock (placing the most important den at high noon). The phone was in the kitchen. I could, with some effort, stretch the wall cord to about 12 o’clock and the handset cord the rest of the way.
Here, under my own personal dining room table, I only stayed for ten minutes and felt my dead father watching me the whole time. I could have stayed, could have even fallen asleep. But I crawled out and checked one more strange yesterday off my list.
*If I’d had more than 10 minutes, I would have checked on the proper usage of lie vs. lay, which I’ve never gotten straight. As is, I claim creative license.
A writer with a writer's brain full of thoughts like crazy uncles, struggling mid-summer to brush aside all the what-not and write.