Since we are a few days past my birthday, sorry if you missed it, I must admit it's not so much fun getting old anymore. It's not the being older in years that's the worst, but the aches and pains that accompany it—which is another matter.
We lived in Chicago while I was growing up, but summered at our lake cottage on Delavan in Wisconsin. My birthdays were a real treat. Each year I could count on a chocolate cake with chocolate fudge frosting decorated with yellow roses from Boutelle's Bakery and presents that were wrapped in pink tissue paper, tied-up in ribbons. I'd sit on the sunny porch, perched on a chair, crown on top of my head with braided hair while sailboats glided passed in the background. Very picturesque.
Then one birthday I got the most horrid gift. I was in sixth grade and my mother felt the kitchen table was no longer the proper study place for me, so she bought me a desk and placed it in my bedroom, upon my pink rug, right in front of the Pricilla laced curtains that framed the windows.
The desk wasn’t one of those charming pieces of furniture with small cubbies at the top for stamps and stationeries; one of those I might have liked. The desk I was given was practical, utilitarian, and served the purpose for which my mother bought it—for studying. The surface was large. Three drawers down each side and the thinner middle drawer. The whole thing was beige. I had to leave the area when I needed to daydream.
Years later, while in high school, Mother thought the desk needed a face lift so she striped it and got one of those new paint kits that were fresh on the market at the time. You chose your fake antique color and then painted on with a special treatment which was to make it look like a genuine antique when completed. Well, it didn’t. The desk was now very dark green with black lines through it. Mother thought replacing the drawer pulls might jazz it up a bit so she bought brass knobs that had a chariot emboldened on it. I didn’t think it was possible for that desk get any uglier until she gave it the treatment.
Of all the things I have owned in my lifetime that is the only belonging that followed me everywhere I went for years and years. It dogged me. Seriously. When I went to college, it came along, when I got my own apartment it was there, and when I moved back home while I filled out job applications, it came back too. Why couldn't I have been followed by my first baby doll, or the pretty chenille bedspread, or the antique floral dishes my great grandmother gave to my mother and then my older sister got? Sigh.
The desk even came along when I got married and we moved to Virginia, back to Illinois and down to Texas. Finally I pawned it off on my daughter Kim when she turned ten, kind of like a rite of passage. I got it when I was ten now it's her turn to be shadowed by it. I felt like writing at the bottom of her birthday card, 'good luck honey' but resisted the urge.
Why do we hold onto things like this? Is it because we have had it for so long that we feel obligated to bring it along with us like ol' Uncle Harry to a family reunion?
One summer, Kimberly and I decided to have a garage sale. That ugly green desk, now chipped with time, was the first thing we sold. That was eighteen years ago and ya know, I still don't miss it.