Saturday, July 24, 2010

dining room memories.

It barely fits 8 people sitting snuggly when the table is set.  It can feed many happy folks when I push everything to the side and serve a buffet.  It has been decorated with chinzy balloons, banners and crepe streamers.  It has been set up with votives and tapers flickering dinner light.  It has been turned into a haunting halloween howl, an Easter egg dipping den, a place to do homework, crafts and basket filling, a place to play cardgames, boardgames, a place to sketch out plans.

There are days when it looked elegant in its own humble way, and other days it was a creative mess during project contruction.  Flowers, cut from my garden or given to me by the one who loves a beautiful bouquet as much as I do often takes frontstage of the centrpiece.   Of the spaces in my home, my little dining room has been transformed more than any other.  If my kitchen is the heart of this house, my dining room is the open hands of giving. With love I have served many meals to  friends and family in that space. 

Today, I remembered so many good times as I began to freshen it up after 12 years with the same paint on the walls.   I didn't expect to be inundated with memories....silly me!  As I put the second coat on the windowsills and began prepping the room for a facelift,  the voices, the nusic, the ambiance, interactions, conversations, reunions, met me full on.

Initially, I was struck by the memories of when we redid it the first time when Max was a baby.  I remembered how I scraped the wall paper one square foot at a time because Max only ever wanted to nurse.  So, I would nurse him and then put him in his car seat and move him around the dining room with me as I scraped.  It took forever, but what I remember learning about it is how sometimes you can't look at a WHOLE project because it overwhelms you and then you don't get started.  You have to take it one bite at a time. 

Then, I realized it was a lesson I needed to revist and reflect on again today because it is an analogy for so many of life's bumps and bruises too.  Its the lesson I embraced when i began writing again..... I didn't have the time to write the novel I wanted to, but if I just posted one piece on the blog daily, I would eventually have enough for a novel.  Both have happened.

If only we had tried to take the issues in our marriage I pondered,  one bite at a time and not let the accumlated problems overwhelm us and smear our way of seeing things.... and how we felt.  Mostly how we felt.  If only we had applied the same philosophy.  But, we didn't and now it's too late.  My redecorating pushed this thought to the forefront as I celebrated and mourned the radical changes in my life and the life of my family and friends.  When a marriage implodes, the impact reverberates beyond the two people who expressed the vows. If only........ can't dwell there too long.

I was  flooded with all of the wonderful wonderful memories of dinners we had in that little dining room.  As my tears flowed, I tuned into the voices and music..........the laughter and companionship......... the debates and the stories......... the smiles and the gratitude you only ever feel right in the core of your heart when you're surrounded by people who love you and you love.  

Certain dinners came to mind. I relived many of them. The VERY first one with Heidi and Andrew right after Jamie had  finished painting it!  And how I ended up downstairs with a wretched crying Max while he entertained people who didn't know what it was like to be around a baby!   The reunion dinners with Bill and Helen and Jim and Ev while the kids played somewhere else  .......... Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving.........birthday parties when the dining room was decorated with streamers............ when the dining room was turned into a buffet for our Ground Hog day parties, and Open houses....... the times when Max would have the 3 of us laughing so hard on normal evenings when it was just the 4 of us.  Sundays.  Sunday dinners catching up and planning for the week always had music playing in the background.

It's such a little space, but it holds the music of love, lauighter, knship, family, ............. it holds many many words I pulled out of the air to write about.  It holds early morning thoughts and prayers when I was up writing and my family was sound aseleep on a Sunday morning ..... the crisp winter light refelcting on the snow outside.  I love writing at the dining room table.

It is where we were at our best......... hosting, being parents, being a couple...... sharing. This we agree on.  Man we worked well together in this little space.... me serving, providing, orchestrating the meals (in my element), and Jamie keeping the conversation, wine and music flowing........ what warms my heart more than anything is that there are many people in my life who hold their own memories of evenings spent right in this space....... late night conversations that led to learning more about one another.  Beautiful connections. 

One of the most memorable dinners?  We were sharing Christmas dinner with three families.  The magic of the season was present with full hearts. The adults sat around the dining room table.  The kids sat 5 feet away at their own table set up in the living room. The music was on.  The fire blazing in the fireplace.  The Christmas tree sparkled in tiny lights.  Candles were burning all around the two rooms.  Every one was in the mood to celebrate.  

I had placed photos on everyone's plates in random order....a photo of each person attending.  After grace I asked everyone to look at the picture of the person in the photo and share a memory or a thought about that person.  Sometimes my attempts like this fall flat.  This time for some reason, it rose beyond my expectations.  Even though the ages ranged from 10 years old to 45,  what was shared, and the insight expressed left this group with a sense of love and belonging that permeated into a meal of thanksgiving where stories were passed along on their own platter.   What warms my heart is that if I was to ask the kids who attended to choose one of their favourite Christmas memories, this moment of talking about the person int he photo inevitably is mentioned.  So simple, yet so poignant. 

It took me the whole day to primer this tiny dining room.  I kept having to quit and catch my breath again...... oh and to change the music.  I cried openly, mourning the loss.  I shed the tears of joy and gratitude too.  I tried to put aside the meals that had been painfully emotional since last Christmas, knowing now that there was one person at the table who had already moved out of the house emotionally, spiritually......... I did though reflect on the new variations of people who have sat around the dining room table when the silence and hurt was served even if no one could face the music.  I've served many meals last spring to my broken family and then retreated to my room so that the kids could have time with their Dad.  It turns out that of all the rooms in this little  house, it is the dining room that has absorbed the transitional times for the whole family. 

Lately though, the laughter and the stories are beginning to return.   This past week for example, it was just Max and I sitting in this space one evening.  The mood was bouyant and the conversation flowed back and forth in a bantering sharing way.  It ran the normal gamut of topics.  It felt right.  It felt comfortably lovely. Afterwards, we cleared the table and cleaned up the dishes together, continuing the discussion we were having on our dreams of travelling. 

So, the room has finally been painted with a primer ready to take on new colour, a new look.  But before I rolled on the white, I painted a few words on the walls............. "renewal" and "bless this space with love."  You won't be able to see the words once its finished, but I know the blessings are there..... I know that if I stumble saying grace as the sole one at the helm, I can look over at the wall and hear it encourage me to find the words........ 

This dining room will soon be ready to host a few good parties........ and many many family meals.   I'll toast to that. 

Post photos will follow..................



Twain12 said...

looks like a wonderful and inviting space ♥

awareness said...

Twain... it feels bigger than it is because the outside wall is all window looking out to the front yard. I was able to paint some of it today in between errands and other responsibilities and it was much easier to do emotionally after writing this piece early this morning. Amazing how writing and tears provide the gift of strength. :)

becca808 said...

what a magical space! the energy and the love in that sweet little room emanates from the photos. I love the idea of the photos under the plates and sharing about each other. I just may have to borrow that one! And to know those words are always there on the wall even though they aren't visible is wonderful.

awareness said...

Thank you Becca. Those words may actually be visible because I globbed the paint on when I was writing them. oooops! I havent finished yet because I went away for a couple of days. Hopefully it will be sunny and ready for meals to be served in by the weekend. I can't wait to pull it altogether again.