The Postscript: Refinishing the fanciest desk in the world
Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Everyone knows that I am attached to my desk. I would argue I have good reason. My desk is an extension of myself. Whereas other people are attached to their phones, I frequently lose track of mine. (Just writing this made me wonder where it was. Don’t worry; I found it.) My desk is my home inside my home.
I hear about people working from their couch or from their kitchen table or even from their bed and I cannot imagine it. My desk is always tidy. I always have fresh flowers sitting on it—even if it’s just a rose from the garden or a bouquet from the grocery store.
My desk came from a junk shop that my parents and I visited a few years ago. It’s a child’s desk and was painted fire engine red. It did not look promising.
But my dad knocked on the wood beneath the red paint, “It’s solid maple,” he declared. I bought it for $15. We took it to my dad’s wood shop, refinished it, and I have used it ever since. One hot summer night a fan came flying off the windowsill, making a deep gouge in the top. I sanded out the gouge, but then put water-soluble polyurethane on the surface. That was a mistake. The surface has begun to dissolve beneath my hands, peeling like a snake losing its skin.
So now my desk is getting refinished before it gets loaded into a big truck and taken to our new home. In the meantime, my husband, Peter, said I could use his reject computer desk, which is being left behind.
Peter’s old desk had a storage tower on top, which he knew would get in my way, so he removed it. It also had a slide-out thingy the keyboard was supposed to sit on and that was never going to work, so I yanked it out. Below that was a shelf, which bumped my knees, so I threw that away as well. There was one last brace I had to straddle and Peter smashed it out with the back side of an ax.
I was still unsatisfied. The little desk rolled around every time I moved. I felt as if I was typing on a boat. “This isn’t going to work!” I told Peter, who was doing his best to get his old desk to meet what seemed to me like minimal requirements: a stationary typing surface that my knees fit beneath.
Peter looked at me like I was the resident prima donna, then removed the wheels. Now all that remains is a small, gray box. I think it will work.
Meanwhile, I pulled out the drawers in my old maple desk and I noticed where the wood had warped and the construction was not the best. I wondered if I shouldn’t just replace the old desk, start with something new in a new place.
But I remember all the time I’ve spent at the little desk, looking out one window or another, and I feel as if the old desk and I have too much invested in one another to part ways now. I wiped it down and was astonished how much coffee had managed to splash all over. I lined the drawers with cedar shelf paper and refinished the peeling top.
I’m imagining it in a new place, working on new projects, with fresh flowers sitting on it, and I know it will be fine.
I don’t need the fanciest desk in the world. I just need a desk that’s all mine.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.