Thursday, September 2, 2010

An Invitation

Our dining room table is a reflection of my life.

It's a beautiful table, underneath all the clutter, an antique piece of solid oak that my husband's great-grandfather lovingly gifted his wife, when her two boys left home for the second world war.  My mother-in-law, as a young girl; then my husband, as a boy; and, more recently--but not so recently--my own children, have all played beneath this table, creating forts with pant-leg drapes; sipping pretend tea from tiny cups while the grownups sipped wine or cognac, one storey above; poking and teasing at the socked feet of the family patriarch whose legs were leisurely stretched out beneath the remains of dinner.

It's a beautiful table that deserves to be dusted and oiled regularly, deserves to boast silver and crystal, tapered candles and freshly cut flowers--and every now and then it does.  But lately, this gallant piece has become the drop zone for projects, bills, pamphlets and receipts, things important enough not to be tucked away in a drawer, lest they are overlooked or forgotten entirely, but things not so important to be worthy of bulletin board status.

Were you to drop in, unannounced, I'd cringe to open the door, because there at the front entrance of our home you would have a clear view of this table and the heaps that impede it.  Immediately, I would apologize to you for the state of our home--which isn't so bad otherwise--and I'd be far more embarrassed than I already seemed.  I'd prefer to have invited you. 

I'd prefer our beautiful table was set for six, or eight, or ten, or twelve; the candle flames flickering, the delicious scent of a meal warming the air.  I'd prefer my hair was freshly coiffed, and my lips donned with the season's latest color.  I'd wear heels and a crisply starched apron.  And you, along with all our other guests--our friends--would linger about after dinner, stretching your legs amongst the children, rubbing your belly and laughing heartily for the good time we'd be having.   

But, today, this isn't my life.  Today, I'm overwhelmed.  I've kids to raise.  A husband to tend.  I've stacks of paper to navigate.  Schedules to coordinate. Laundry to do.  Bathrooms to clean.  Resumes to write.  Life to manage.  And there, laying squashed and crinkled at the bottom of my ironing basket, my apron awaits.  I'll get to it sooner or later.  Expect a formal invitation then.

In the meantime, feel free to drop in. Push passed my reddening cheeks and press me for a cup of tea, a glass of wine at the kitchen counter, an impromptu snack of whatever the kids haven't eaten.  Because, while I'm not quite ready for you, friend, I still need you.