I was sweeping the floor this morning, moving the broom around the familiar contours of our kitchen that include the two wooden stools we purchased nearly 20 years ago and the side table made in Ankara in 2003. The house was quiet, as it is every morning, punctuated only by the soft gurgle of the coffee pot. Then I looked up and saw it – the chest. A wave of unexpected emotion rushed through me. It had been a while since I had really seen her; I sat down on one of the stools, overcome by a flood of memories.
It was twenty-six years ago. David and I were living in Indiana with our two young daughters. Living in a modest ranch, we were awash in diapers, toddler clothes and baby food. I struggled to find room for everything. We heard about a guy who made pine furniture. It was our first commissioned piece – a pine two door cabinet, complete with rustic carved door panels and hearts. It had three shelves, perfect for storing anything. I thought it was beautiful. Soon after bringing it home, we discovered the simple wooden latch was placed too low, perfectly positioned for little hands to open and help themselves. We added another latch too high for them to reach, even on tiptoes. At some point, I decided the plain pine finish was too plain and stained it barn red, adding a leaf design and painting the hearts green.
Although many possessions and pieces of furniture stayed with us through the years, the cabinet was special. It said “home”. It has been with us through multiple military and non-military moves – a pantry in Indiana, an armoire in Illinois, a game cabinet in California. When we moved to Turkey and put most of our things in storage, the cabinet was an exception. It made the trek overseas. Somehow, putting it in our Ankara apartment gave me a comfort that transcended the language and culture barriers.
Now, our children grown and far away, it sits in our New Hampshire kitchen, the doors well-worn around the upper latch, the 90s remodel looking decidedly dated and out of sync. The last time our family was together, I talked about painting it a neutral gray. I shouldn’t have been surprised when our daughters loudly protested. After all, it bears the unique fingerprints of our family’s life. Now that I see it, I love it just the way it is.