I’ve spent many years living on limited funds and in tight quarters. As a perennial government/education/non-profit sector employee—in New York City, no less—I learned to appreciate the ‘make do with what you have’ approach that was drilled into my head since childhood by my thrifty and resourceful Irish Catholic mother. (I mean, give this woman a coat hanger, an old bedsheet and some duct tape and stand back. If we ever need to survive on bare essentials in a post-apocalyptic world—she’s the gal you want in your camp.)
Living in tiny apartments, the few pieces of furniture I possessed had to serve more than one purpose—my couch was an office, dining area and guestroom, my coffee table was a breakfast nook, storage cube and linen closet, even my bicycle was a coat rack, at one point. For years, I never had the space for a real desk.
Even when I first moved to Seattle, where there’s a bit more elbow room (and a washer/dryer in EVERY apartment! Hallelujah!), the apartments I had were all sort of oddly shaped, and never conducive to that elusive piece of furniture—a desk. So, I just continued ‘making do’ when it came to having a place to write— at coffee shops, the library, or balancing my laptop on the biggest coffee table book I owned while I sat on my couch.
When I got married and we moved into an actual house—I finally had the space for a desk. BUT, when I had to share a desk with another person, their desktop computer, two types of printers (one is supposedly just for printing pictures but we never use it) and all the other person’s stuff… I just could never get comfortable. I was always knocking something over or elbow-bumping something. So, I still found myself working at makeshift desks.
One day not too long ago, my husband, who’s an engineer and who always has the right tool for the job at hand, saw that I was propped uncomfortably on the couch with my laptop, and asked why the heck I wasn’t working at “our desk.” I politely explained that, well, there was too much friggin’ crap on that desk and I could never get properly situated there.
“Well, let’s get you a desk of your own!” he said. (Engineers are so logical!) Even better, being the creative and capable fellow that he is, (he could give my mother a run for her money in the inventiveness category) he built me a desk! What a guy. He even put it in a spot that has a great view.
A comfortable and convenient place to write is such a luxury! A room of one’s own, if you’re really lucky (see Karen McHegg’s post.) Or, more modestly, just a spot in your own house with surface area enough to put a laptop, a cup of coffee, and a pile of spiral notebooks. But—it does not end there! My new desk even has a drawer! Yes! My very own drawer to put desk-related items, like pens and flashdrives and M&M’s!
So, even though I am late in posting this blog-piece—given how hectic my life has been this week, I am fairly certain that it would not have been written at all if I hadn’t been able to plant myself in front of my computer, at home, at my very own desk.
It’s really the little things, isn’t it?