The last box has been unpacked and my dining table has finally been assembled, and my new apartment is actually feeling like home. Like my home. I have never had my own home before, so this is at times strange and very novel. Sometimes I feel like this is almost too much space for just one person. I’ve lived so long out of one room of my own that having multiple rooms of my own almost seems greedy.
But then I think of one of the main reasons I decided I really wanted my own place: so I can provide hospitality for others. My sister reminded me of this when she was helping me shop for dining tables. As I was looking at settling for one of the less expensive four-person tables, she said something like “but isn’t part of the point of moving so that you can have people over for dinner? Don’t you want to be able to seat lots of people?” She was right, why shouldn’t I set myself up right away to be able to provide the hospitality I long to offer?
Also exciting this week was beginning to fill my fridge and cupboards with food, a primary sign of life in a home. I still have a fair amount to do before things feel completely settled, but I am well on my way. I think it will really feel like home, will really feel like a sacred space, when I first cook a real meal and have people over. In a small way, that has already happened. The first thing that made the space feel a little like home, was when my moving helpers and I ate our fancy lunch of chicken nuggets and french fries heated up in the oven on foil baking trays, eating standing-up at the kitchen counter. Despite the informality of it, it was something that made me think “yes, this is my space, this is a gathering place, this can be a holy place.”
Food has a wonderful way of bringing people together and making our being-together a meaningful experience. This, I think, is why food and religious ritual go hand-in-hand, whether it is eating together or abstaining from eating, together, food is something that teems with life and with meaning. The table (or the picnic blanket, or the bar, or the floor) is the centre of a shared life, the place where friends and enemies can gather to be nourished and sustained, challenged and comforted.
Perhaps this is why the process of buying a table was difficult for me, more than any other piece of furniture, it had to be just right, the right object to put at the centre of my new home. Perhaps I will never be quite satisfied with the table until it takes on the life of this place, until it has had spills on it, until it has been dented by chairs, until its surface takes on the feel of me and of the various conflagrations of communities that will sit at it.
Welcome to my table.
ps: I have a new job that I adore, working here. That’s all I’ll say about it.
pps: Yes, that’s a picture of my table.