not just any old seat
i hadn’t realized how long we’d been waiting. but now that they’re here, now that the big green truck lurched to the curb, ever since jose, the really nice man with the clipboard and the little phone in his ear, ever since he got the big boxes down off the truck, onto the dolly, rolled up the wiggly walk, ever since i saw my very own brother’s words on the side of the boxes, ever since the tall grownup i live with hoisted them out of their boxes and all of their miles of soft paper padding, ever since they were lifted and carried to right where they sit now, lifted like some sort of offering up to the altar, i realized we might have been waiting since long, long ago when we decided to make us a family.
what they are, elementally speaking, is two stools. one for each boy. carved, bent, fitted, sanded and waxed by four of the lovingest hands in my world: my brother david, and his beloved wife, bec. the seat and the crest (you might call it the back; i did until i was otherwise told), are of cherry; the legs and the spindles, of ash.
they are thomas moser-designed, david mahany-and-rebecca neumann-constructed. thomas moser, you might know, designs some of the finest american furniture. he is in a line with hitchcock and stickley, both new england chairmakers of earlier centuries. for more than a year now, my woodworking brother has lived up in maine, building for moser. a moser chair, or a stool, is something to dream for.
believe me, that tall guy with the eye for design, the one who lifted each stool as if bread to the gods, he’s been dreamin’. could not wait to see the bent cherry peeking over the counter. could not wait to run his palms down the spindles. could not wait, not at all, to slide his bottom onto the seat that fits like a fine pair of pants.
he knew, because he knows these things, studies these things, lives and breathes for these things, that the stools at once brought art and place to our old farmhouse kitchen.
place, as defined by the tall guy, roughly translated by me, is the invisible carving of space, the creation of some spot on the map with a particular function. a blip of a room with a purpose. a corner, perhaps, where you curl up to dream.
or a stool at a counter where you pull up for wisdom. or consolation. or confession. we joked, right away, as i leaned by the sink, and the manchild sat in the stool, unspooling his worries, that the only thing missing was the sound of the little door sliding inside the confessional box. so we mimicked that sound, sliding the screen door for effect, back and forth a few times.
it was immediate. soon as those stools were stripped of their wrapping, two bottoms slid in. planted elbows. demanded grilled cheese.
my sink, the sink where i spend so much of my day, is right there. right across from the stools whose fine cherry tops–i mean crests, please excuse me–now peek over the counter.
i’ve a feeling that i will remain at my water-splashed post. the priestess to those in the stools.
i like that.
now, thanks to the fine carving and waxing of four hands in portland, there is in our house a place set aside for planting your worries. come to the counter. take a seat. spill your heart. have a pop-tart. or a big bowl of rice chex, right before bed.
while i cook and i chop. while i scrub and i rinse. bring me your worries, your stories, your heart’s heavy load.
i can think of no rail for communion i’d rather preside at.
a house is a holy thing. what unfolds there is decidedly sacred. what is carved and boxed and sent far away is, well, far more than a stool, it’s a seat for the soul to be honored.
and both my boys now have a place that is theirs for the rest of their lives.
thank you david and becca. thank you with all of our hearts. and all of our bottoms besides.
do you have a place in your house where you always sit to unload your worries? did you have such a place in your growing-up house? what other sorts of nooks and crannies call out your name? have a particular purpose? the place you dream? the place you cry? the place you pound out your stories, give wing to your fancy? any one else know the great gift of having someone you love build, or sew, or mold, or paint, a piece of your home that you will always carry with you? as much a piece of your heart as your kin?