Monday, September 21, 2015

The Table

You know those articles... "30 things every person should know/own/have done/read/tried/etc. before they're 30"? I think they are kind of ridiculous. They encourage you to quickly grow up and get it all together, and I don't like the expectation. But simultaneously, there are things I have looked forward to whilst in high school, then college, to now having my own place in a new city. In high school, you are eager to grow for reasons like – freedom of time, ability to create a space apart from your parents, the room to grow and learn and question, greater legal freedom like being able to try alcohol. Then as you step into college, you have a new multitude of responsibilities to exercise, but you also anticipate – having an established place, having an established group of friends, having an established job and maybe some clue or hint of life purpose. In college, you want to grow up because the world is full of possibilities and college has been hinting at that over the past four years.

I want and hope for all of these things. I anticipate them, but in the same vein, I want to hold onto my childlike wonder and easy, uncomplicated joy. It's hard. All this goes to say, in moving to San Francisco, I had one big adult "must-purchase" item that would equate to real maturity and responsibility and success of adulthood. (Sure, let's go with that.) I wanted a dining room table.

IMG_0016

These days, tables have come to represent a surface where sustenance and creation come together—a place to wonder and to solve problems, to probe and to redefine our roles. It stands as a symbol of our connectedness with each other and with ourselves: We come to eat, we stay to dine. In this way, the table has become a site where our lives play out and where we draw ideas and narratives into existence. How we set the table, how we spend time at the table and who we choose to share the table with directly reflects the way we live away from the table—change one, and you'll inevitably change the other.
– Veronica Martin, "Turn the Tables" taken from Kinfolk, volume seventeen


I've been out-loud dreaming about the table for a few months and have really given it purpose + personality in my conversations. I see it as a place for early morning cups of tea and light reading. No, I see it as a communal dining table filled with close friends and SF home team members on a Sunday night, all enjoying a family-style meal. Or better yet, this table is the base for watercolor painting and Friday morning dream sessions and a platform for creative thoughts and dreams. Or that's close, but maybe its built instead for round-table discussion about issues—the unknown or the uncomfortable. The table definitely has a personality... maybe even multiple.

In dreaming about it, someone shared the beautiful Kinfolk excerpt with me. I wish I could just post those words and leave it at that because I love Veronica's romantic + ideal notions toward tables. I think the table is most beautiful when it serves as a place to dine, or more broadly, as a place to be. But unlike her greater essay, I do not feel like this is the general trajectory that we are all on. We are more interconnected than ever socially though virtually, but this has weakened the significance of the table.

Example: I work through lunch most days. I do not even leave my desk. At the end of the day, I come home and snack on the couch and often continue working. C'est la vie in tech. But it shouldn't be that way. Even my roommate takes most of her meals at her workplace. Granted, I think she ventures to the cafeteria and truly dines with coworkers, but it's out of a habit of eating with people, and overwhelmingly a place to eat rather than a place to dine and be. So let's change that.

Addition: So we bought a table, and we've had it for a full month now. My romantic dreams, my desire to emulate Veronica's essay... I don't know where all our grand schemes of dinner parties went to... but we need to fine them, reset them, and create a place to dine and a place to be.