Some objects grow dear, and I love this table. It’s got three boards. Purchased at an auction in Cold Spring, New York, 20 years ago, it must be a hundred years old. I’ve dragged it through the doorways of tens of apartments, the studio, the house in Mattituck. Usually, that required figuring the angles. I used to call my father for help. He could listen to the measurements over the phone and tell the movers how it would go in. He was unavailable for this latest move, obviously, but because the table top is no longer attached to its base, it wasn’t as challenging.
Once I lent the table to a friend for awhile. She had a big house to furnish and I was living in a tiny studio, without a good spot for it. One day I discovered she had given it to an antique shop to sell. I walked into the shop and spotted it right away. It had a price tag around one leg. My heart started pounding.
I said “That table over there, that’s my table.”
The proprietress of the store looked confused. She’d stumbled into a mess. It wasn’t easy but eventually I got it back. All of the old nails connecting the three boards to the base had been removed. I don’t know why.
Still its rough beauty remains. It’s a soulful table. I don’t talk to the friend anymore, the one who tried to sell it. She was the kind of friend you had to watch constantly but I adored her. She was fun, had the best parties, could make you feel you were the most important person in the world, but she was a liar and would involve you in her lies. She enjoyed the power play of pretending to be one thing and being another. I looked the other way a lot because I didn’t want to lose her. But eventually, I distanced myself. Then she tried to sell the table. After that, it was all over. Before I knew her, I remember, the first thing I ever heard about her was she liked to go to the funerals of strangers. Even knowing all that, sometimes I miss her. Crazy I know. But if anything is true it’s this: You love who you love. If love makes sense, it’s the kind of sense that isn’t easy to get to the bottom of.
Although, I sold most of my furnishings and other possessions to the woman who bought the Mattituck house, I have two chairs, a table and a bed. In the Harlem apartment, the walls of exposed brick, the fireplaces, the massive open kitchen, seemed to fill the space and I didn’t need anything more. I did buy a big couch on Craigslist which didn’t make it to this place. It was massive and the wrong style anyway. It was modern, a Knoll knock off. It ended up on the curb on West 121 Street after Housing Works rejected it for being scratched on by cats.
The new apartment is a blank canvas. The walls have been primed but not painted. The lighting fixtures are the cheapest the builder could find. There isn’t much natural charm, although the kitchen and bathroom are newly renovated and clean. But I’m on a constant search to make it feel like home here. I’m a shopping maniac with a limited bank account. Eventually, I’ll make it into something nice. All my creative impulses are being sucked dry by it though. It’s taking my songwriting energy, my journal writing energy. I’m going to paint it myself the way I do with a single brush. I don’t know when I’ll ever be done. Yesterday I bought two light fixtures at the new Conran’s beneath ABC. A few days before, a vertical bookstand from DWR. Ask me anything. I know every light, every lamp, every chair, every sofa, every dresser, every piece of furniture in this city. Some of it will be mine.