FROM THE EDITOR
If i had to pinpoint the emotional epicentre of my home, it would be our round rimu dining table. Its chunky styling speaks of the mid90s, when solid rimu furniture was de rigueur, and I went back to work full-time after raising kids. I took the job partly so I could afford to buy that table and its eight matching chairs. It cost $6000: an extravagance. “We’ll use it a lot so it’s worth it,” I said to Nick in justification.
And so it turned out. Today the tabletop is a mesh of small scars from two decades of family life: scribble imprints and scalpel cuts (kids’ artwork); pin scratches (sewing sessions) and – intriguingly – four small punctures where someone stabbed it with a fork.
I look at my table and remember the people who sat around it: my school-aged kids in hand-knitted jumpers; my mother, who loved a heated dinner-table debate and is now wordless in a dementia ward. Sometimes I catch myself stroking its pock-marked surface.
I’ve always assumed my fondness for our table was a personal thing: a symptom of an overly sentimental disposition. In the past few weeks, though, no less than three public figures have waxed lyrical about their tables.
First, best-selling author Nicky Pellegrino filed a column for this issue, in which she speaks movingly about her unlovely and much-loved table, and the messy dinner parties she has had around it. “I wouldn’t give up [my table] for the world,” she says on page 122.
Then the nation’s two top politicians voiced their dining-table affections in separate features on our website, homed.co.nz.
Bill English, it turns out, has a big rectangular table that he nominates as a favourite family treasure: “I really like it,” he says. “We can fit the whole family around it.” (Six kids!)
Jacinda Ardern has a table she bought off Trade Me and refurbed with a friend. It is, she says, her office as well as her favourite piece of furniture.
It took me by surprise, this public outpouring of table-attachment, and made me think afresh about how incredibly important it is to get the right table – and how, for me at the moment, this is proving a dilemma.
In the plans for our new house, the architect has drawn a big rectangular table in the middle of the open kitchen space. It’s a focus of the room, and I can see that a rectangular table suits the space better than a round table would. So Nick and I have been looking at new tables. The ones we like best are antique or made of recycled timber, because they feel as if they have seen a bit of life.
But I am not convinced. “Why would we swap out a piece of our family history for someone else’s?” I say to Nick. I’ve decided I’ll take our old round table to the new house… just to see what it looks like. Watch this space.