This table lived in the dark kitchen of my great aunt Genevieve’s house. For eons it was buried under layers of Jack in the Box wrappers, cat food cans and folded litter bags. At some point in it’s history it had functioned as a kitchen table. However, in my great aunt’s era it’s former glory was masked by a decidedly undomestic pall. I remember how the mint green paint used to peek out from under the garish colors, and the ever present odor of layered kitty fur and unmentionables. This table hinted at a taste for “county chic” that I just can’t shake. Long before Shabby Chic was on our “to get” lists at Target I yearned for “distressed” furniture. I longed for everyday wear and tear, signs that someone had kneaded bread and boiled laundry near by.
Well I got the bread kneading out of my system in college, and frankly I think that the modern washer and dryer are the greatest inventions ever, so where does “distressed” furniture find a place in my contemporary life? It has a place in my heart, I long for it. Ever since I could remember I wanted this table in my domestic space. I dragged it around with me in my mind. When I lived in a little cabin there was simply no room. When I moved to the farm house there was time to consider. I mean honestly how could I be fiddling around with refinishing a table that was shedding lead paint while I had a toddler in tow? The table languished in the back of my mind, reminding me of all the other things buried in my heart that for one excuse or another might never see the light of day.
It was actually Jim who liberated the farm table. I had agonized about how to get the paint off, and I need a respirator, and it would be a big ordeal… When I showed it to him he said, “Oh that’s easy, all you need to do is wrap it in duct tape and the paint will come right off and stick to the tape”. He was right, one insight set the table free.
It only took 20 minutes to wrap the table. The removal of the tape and sealing of the paint took another 40.
One of the interesting things I noticed was that the table had been painted over many times. Each time it was painted no one had bothered to clean the dirt and grime off. So either my ancestors were terrible housekeepers, or like me they accepted life as it was and simply painted over when they needed to move on. It is much easier to have a distressed table then have a distressed life. I find it empowering to have an object on which I can offload scary things, sad things, anxious things and all the other dismantling feelings I have collected along the way. The table is at home and looks great completely exposed. I want that naked confidence, but right now that seems better left to the table. Instead I will sit back and enjoy it’s domestic bliss, sorting through the mail and belaboring the occasional flower arrangement.