View from the Hill
Our Kitchen Table
By Catherine Durkin Robinson
Jul 3, 2011 - 4:18:22 PM

LOS ANGELES—You might think that just because I’ve got a career, happy family and blue eyes that I’ve got it all. You might think because I’m writing books and have the greatest friends known to man that I’m perfectly content and satisfied. You might think that I have no idea what it feels like to be lonely, frustrated or irregular.

You’d be wrong.

Photo by Jocelyn Holt
I struggle like everyone else through this miserable economy, disheartening political climate and one depressing ecological disaster after another. I understand what it’s like to deal with challenging children while addressing personal crises and the indignities of dry skin. The other day, after working all day and feeling overwhelmed by the silence of editors and headhunters, saddened by the setbacks in Washington, not to mention the pressure of an entire house that needs cleaning, I laid my head on the kitchen table and cried.

As tears fell on the cherry wood surface, I thought about this setting. Just a few nights earlier, cherished friends had traveled from all over the country to spend time with us and celebrate my husband’s birthday. The same table absorbing my sorrow had recently absorbed the condensation of about 12 different alcoholic beverages while old friends told six hours worth of stories and gave birth to a few more.

I wiped my face, avoided a few phone calls, and thought about my kitchen table and all the ways it has participated in my personal history.

At that table, after hauling it from one city to another as a newly married couple, we built friendships with so many wonderful people over microbrews and fine wine”¦years before we all went crazy and stopped using birth control.

At that table, we entertained intimate crowds for holidays and birthdays and Friday night dinners. Crowds who didn’t mind vegetarian meals that almost always needed salt.

At that table, Husband and I discussed the idea of becoming parents and probably climbed up and tried once or twice.

At that table, our boys were brought into the Jewish community. Husband paid closer attention to their circumcision than he did watching Wimbledon.

At that table, after hauling it to our first house, I wondered how the hell we wound up in the suburbs.

At that table, Husband and I taught our children to appreciate vegetables and hard work.

At that table, I taught our boys how to write their names and subtract two from four. If you look closely you can still see scribbled out math problems forever embedded in the wood because my kids don’t understand the meaning of, “Put a goddamn book under that worksheet.”

At that table, I’ve contemplated out-of-control chin hairs and what to do with the rest of my life.

At that table, we bless our children every Friday night and pray that they bring honor to themselves, their family and flag football fans.

At that table, we’ve listened to family members share their souls while being honored to be a part of their legacydespite the propensity toward constipation and varicose veins.

At that table, Husband and I decided to chance it all and move to another state.

At that table, I laughed, folded laundry and shared secrets with people who would later break my heart.

At that table, I watch the love of my life pretend to like my cooking and ask him, over and again, for the love of God, to please chew with his mouth closed.

At that table, I’ve written countless posts, queries and newspaper columns. I’ve answered hate mail, love letters and expressed regret over friending my parents on Facebook.

At that table, Husband and I decided to chance it all and move back home.

At that table, my mom, dad, brother, sister and I began to understand each other.

At that table, we’ve connected with old and new friends. They pretend to like salt-free cooking, too.

At that table, my children practice manners, math problems and listening skills.

Through good times and bad, that table is where I gather with loved ones and try to figure it all out. Other times I sit alone.

As I trace the cracks, stains and ink marks, and think about the years of breakdowns and breakthroughs held up by four legs and a boatload of history, I realize that although I might not have it all, my happy family and best friends known to man count for a heck of a lot.

And where did I realize that I should focus on what I have instead of what I don’t?

That kitchen table, of course.

Still participating in my history; it’s sturdier than I realized.

Who wants dinner?

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