Today I feel as though I stand on a long stretch of road, alone, no signs of life.
The pavement disappears in either direction. I cannot see houses, buildings, cars, or trees overhanging the smooth surface of the path on which my feet lift to tread. In reality I am sitting at a five-dollar home-made table pushed against two north-facing windows in a room overlooking my neighbor’s roofline.
Last evening a friend from Rotary came to the house with her fiance and looked at my old oak dining set. Their large family needs just what I have: Ten chairs, two leaves, sturdy legs. I watched them measure its length and murmur together about the size of their dining room. The memory of this table purchase lingers but it lies far back in another volume of my life’s story. I can hear the pounding of a fist on its surface, a good smack to test the strength of its construction. I showed my friend the scratches where we attached a device for pressing shortbread, not realizing that we would damage the finish. She did not seem to care. We settled on a price and made arrangements for them to transport everything home on another day. As they left, we talked about her upcoming mission trip to Nicaragua, and I marveled for the hundredth time at how special she is.
On their way out, I asked the fiance if he would carry my recycle box to the curb. I watched their easy saunter down my walk, he with the box lightly balanced; she with one hand barely touching his arm. I called to her, Take lots of pictures! and the radiance of her returning smile rewarded me.
As I moved around the house after their departure, I ran my finger over the surface of shelves and the contours of the objects placed upon them. They all seemed to be sentences in the chapters of my life. I can tell you the origin of each. I can see the faces of the people who gave them to me; the places where I bought them; or the other homes from which I carried them when they had outlived their usefulness to other people. Like my table: I no longer need it, and now another family will gather around it to break their daily bread.
I stood in the dining room and gazed at the new table, the one I bought last year. Smaller, a different style, it nonetheless has already seen its share of gatherings in my home. More will come. Many chapters of my story are not yet written.
It’s the fifteenth day of the twenty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.