The Evolution of My Desk


I love desks; the one in this picture looks like it's seen a lot of words scribbled across it's worn and dinged surface.

I remember my first desk. My dad bought matching unfinished wood desks for my older brother and I, then spent a few weekends sanding, staining, and polyurethaning them until they glowed a warm reddish-brown.

I loved that desk. I was five or six, and too big for my smartypants britches. Writing was something I'd discovered recently. We had an old Underwood typewriter from my great-aunt Nora's estate and I hauled it up from the basement. Perched on a telephone book on my chair, I tip-tapped my first stories and poems on that cranky old machine.

It was like magic to me.

That desk was mine for many years; it had drawers and nooks and crannies - perfect for stashing treasures. Underneath, instead of legs, it had a small bookcase that held up the back of the desk. My first book collection lived on those shelves, books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Little Mermaid.

I grew up and out of that desk as I left home for college. My dorm-issued desks were sturdy, but not places where I spent much time. Anyone who's lived on campus assigned to a roommate you don't know will understand what I mean when I tell you I found it easier to do much of my work in one of the many libraries at Maryland.

When I moved off-campus, I bought a simple easel-style desk that did a fine job of holding my typewriter - not the Underwood, but a newer one with *gasp* word-processing functions. That desk came with me when Knute and I got married and lasted many years as our computer desk.

I upgraded to a swanky black Target desk in 2004, one we still have today. I like it, but it's still more of a desktop computer receptacle than a true desk. And, given that I spend most of my time working on my laptop, my desk is no longer really mine; Becky and Huck spend more time than I do seated there as they click around NickJr.com or Disney.com.

Still -

There's something about a desk that speaks to the writer in me, much like freshly sharpened pencils or blank notebook paper.

They are provocative. They whisper, "Come here."

They are filled with possibility.

I used to dream of having a writer's retreat in my home, a desk under an attic eave or in front of an window that looked out across a field or a pond or a stretch of swaying trees.

Such a place would be a fine thing, but it lives only in my dreams.

Writing while mommying means dashing words down in a hurry, trying to beat the clock before pick-up time at school. Or it means late nights at the kitchen table, a tepid mug of tea at my elbow and scribbled notes of things to do online before I write.

Writing while mommying is far from the peaceful image of my dream desk.

But it is still writing.

And it is still magic.

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