We’ve had this little nook in our home for two years now. And for two years, it hasn’t felt right. Women, you know what I mean by this. Move a plant, relocate a candle, slap on a new coat of paint, but if something is still off, it’s going to be something you obsess over like that one stealth hair you can never catch with the tweezers that causes you to look like a highly caffeinated Mister Miagi armed with a pair of chopsticks attacking your own face. (Men, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. “It looks the same. Did you change something?” Enough said.)
This landing is pretty dark once the sun goes down. With our aging bulldog now thinking that 4:30am is when the sun rises (she’s on west coast time) and she MUST be fed at the hour that only roosters and new moms know, we needed something that lit up the landing so that Tank (and her groggy parents) didn’t trip and take out something precious in the process.
Last year I became the proud owner of two of the original windows from a dear friend’s childhood home. I mounted one of the windows to the wall and bought a sinew string globe/lantern thingy (what are those even called?) from Home Goods, brought it home, and then decided that I don’t want to be bothered by lighting the candle every time I want to see where I’m going. At 4:30am, I would be more prone to light the house on fire than this globe.
My husband is the brains of our duo. He thought ahead when we had this nook built, and had an outlet installed right in the center of the lower part of the wall. I took our Christmas tree extension cord (if Chris can’t find it in November when we decorate, hopefully one of us remembers this post…) and a strand of soft LED white lights. I shoved the lights into the Home Goods globe/lantern thingy, and hung it from a simple iron plant hanger from the Christmas Tree shop. A bamboo plant (my unhealthy obsession with bamboo is another story) that I got from my in-laws as a birthday gift years ago was the perfect finishing touch in front of the globe. Not only does it hide the cord, but it looks really cool all lit up, or at least I think so.
This landing is special to me. The table that is only seen as an accent in this picture deserves an entry of its own; I lovingly refer to it as my ‘weapons table.’ Because that’s what it is, even if you can’t see it in its full glory.
When 9/11 happened, I was living with my parents and working north of Manhattan near the Tappan Zee bridge. I remember that day vividly, and I wasn’t even in the city. I got the call that let the air whoosh back into my lungs, “Your dad is ok,” and that was all that mattered at the time. Driving home from work in the week that followed in a snowstorm of ash – not knowing if it was paper, buildings, or bodies – was horrible. I cried daily on my commute to and from work when I passed the train station, seeing the abandoned cars and wondering if the people I had seen daily walking to the train were safe. Hug your loved ones tightly, and be kind to strangers. You never know the walk that someone has walked.
Artie was one of my dad’s employees, and as with so many stories I heard about that day, he just ‘happened’ to sleep in and watch the horror unfold from the bus instead of being in the building. What I didn’t know at the time was that he was a master woodworker – an old school craftsman that I could only aspire to be. It shocked me – this man who worked in an office during the day but led an ‘alter ego’ life of an artist on the side.
My dad commissioned him in the weeks that followed the attacks to build me a table, complete with beautiful routed edges and glass windows that I’ve never anyone else hold a candle to in craftsmanship. I remember driving into Brooklyn with Dad to pick up the table, fighting to contain my tears. What my parents didn’t know at the time was that this gesture of kindness to an employee and belief in a local artist was a catalyst to my own development.
If Artie could do it, so could I. Turn something broken into beautiful.
My weapons table, built by Artie: it holds so much history of my past. A machete (that I strapped to my carry-on without any question in 1997) and a petrified scorpion…Belize (and the amazing people who took me under their wings) truly taught me what teaching from your heart was all about. Arrows from Indonesia that I brought back pre-9/11…back in the days when Customs let me waltz through security with a huge set of indigenous bow and arrows strapped to my back to greet loved ones in JFK airport. My grandfather’s knife…such a precious possession because I never had the blessing of knowing either of my grandfathers. And so much more.
This table, this small landing, needed to be just so. And now it feels right.
I’ve been thinking about Manhattan a lot in recent weeks as I’m headed there in a few days for an opportunity of a lifetime. The new skyline still makes me do a double take. I haven’t seen Artie since that day in Brooklyn, but one day I’ll thank him. He changed the life of a young woman who was scared to follow her dream and go against the norm. Every day I see that beautiful table he made, I’m reminded to keep doing what I love. Everything worth fighting for…takes fighting for. And seeing the landing now…feels right.
String globe/lantern thingy + LED lights: various prices. But I bet you won’t be disappointed if you combine the two in your home.