Monday, October 20, 2008

A Rough Stone Amid Diamonds

Whenever I tell a new acquaintance that I live in downtown Chicago, their first reaction is usually:

“Wow! Right in downtown?”

To which I reply, “Yep, right downtown.”

Then they look at me as if seeing me for the first time—and I swear, I can see the dollar signs lighting up in their eyes.

It’s true, we do live in a really nice area of Chicago, in a modern high-rise building with a doorman, a pool, and an exercise room—the whole shebang, if you will.

However, we wouldn’t live here if it wasn’t reasonably priced. And extremely convenient—so convenient we don’t own a car. (Just think of all the money that saves us!)

And truth be told, my husband and I are not exactly what you would call “the elite.” Actually, we are quite the opposite of that. I like to shop at Target, eat grilled cheese sandwiches, and watch old episodes of “Hee Haw” on t.v. I am SO not the “rich person” people think of when they think of living downtown.

To illustrate this, let me tell you about the coffee table in our living room.

This coffee table has been with us the whole time we’ve been married, and we don’t plan on ever giving it up.

It’s really old and worn, and the wood is so chipped that it has almost more chipped areas than unchipped areas.

But I have really grown to love this table.

I remember back when I was first dating Iwanski, and I decided for the first time to spend Christmas with his family. Even though my Mom and Dad were not happy to not have me with them for Christmas, it turned out to be a great introduction for me into the wacky Iwanski family.

That Christmas was in the house that Iwanski grew up in (which is now owned by another family), and our beloved coffee table—still owned by Iwanski’s parents--sat in the middle of the front room. (I never heard of a “front room” before meeting Iwanski. For those of you that don’t know, it’s basically a living room in the front of the house.)

We all gathered in the front room, and presents were piled on that table. I remember that John’s female cousin—who for some reason always enjoyed buying new underwear—was presented with a gift box containing a bunch of old granny panties. She got a puzzled look on her face and just said, “Oh, gee, thanks” until the gifter (I think it was Iwanski’s Mom) just started cracking up.

So it wasn’t just Iwanski who was wacky, after all—it was his whole family! And I remember that the coffee table was in the center of all of it.

Years later, when we were given the table, I was grateful, but I didn’t think much of it. We had other hand-me-downs, too, so it wasn’t a rare item.

But eventually, all of our hand-me-downs were replaced by new furniture. We got a new computer desk, a new sofa and recliner, and a new bookshelf. But we still had the same old coffee table.

I remember when we first bought our new sofa and recliner, and a coffee table in the furniture store showroom caught my eye. I wanted to buy it, but fortunately, Iwanski had the level head to say, “We just spent (however much money it was at the time). The old coffee table will do for now.”

Later, at home, I thought the coffee table looked strangely out of place with the new furniture.

But then I sat and looked at it for a few minutes.

It was the table we had when we were first married.

It’s the table our cats love to climb on (and Iwanski likes to yell at them to get off of).

It’s the table that held our meals for many years before we had enough room to put up a small dining table.

It’s the table that holds our magazines and books and sodas and beers and assorted snackies.

And I began to think, “I really like this table.”

And now I don’t think I could give it up.

But maybe someday, we’ll think differently. Maybe when we have kids, we’ll decide that we don’t want a table with glass in it any more.

For now, I am happy with our old, worn-out, chipped table with so many memories surrounding it.

I couldn’t ask for anything more.


Citymouse said...

:) I love it when you make me think warm and fuzzy thoughts

Mathman6293 said...

Although we never lived downtown, there was a time when we lived at Devon and Western. I walked to work and Dcup took the bus. Now, I long for a metra or el train that could take me to work instead of driving 45 miles one way.

Oh, we had a front room when I was a kid but it was prounounced "frunchroom"... Love Chicago.

sageweb said...

What a great story..I have nothing like you should hang on to it.

MaryRuth said...

HAHAHA! I was going to share about the "frunchroom" too, but I got beat to it! That's how we said in Milwaukee too. A few years ago, a not-from- the-Midwest friend of my niece was quite puzzled by the term and asked her what was this "French Room" people kept talking about.

Daisy's Mom said...

Ahh... the old coffee table...
Ask Iwanski about the dog sleeping on the cool glass during the hot summers...

I'm glad a piece of the Iwanski lore is living on in your fronchroom!

Buck said...

Awww. I never knew the story about that old coffee table. Now I like it too.

Diane said...

Do you know that all the pictures I have of my time spent at your apartment does not contain a full view of that coffee table? Instead, I have plenty of pictures of bottles, glasses and snacks being held by something at shin level. Mr. Coffee Table, thank you for all the support you provide! :)

Leah said...

What a great homage to your coffee table. sniff sniff...

It must be so super nice to not need a car. AND how cool is it that you have a doorman?!

Barb said...

Isn't it funny how somthing so mundane can take on a whole new life of its own. Thanks for the story

Sling said...

That loyal table has done much to make your house feel like a home.
Nicely done post Miss HP! :)

Maria said...

MY GOD! You live downtown?? Chicago is my favorite city of all time and the two friends that we stay with when we visit (Thuan and Vince) live in downtown Chicago! I could stand and look out of their windows all day long... are, well....wealthy. I thought you had to be to live there.

I think I would be in heaven if I lived in downtown Chicago....

Miss Healthypants said...

Thanks, Mouse. :)

Mathman--yes, that's how it's pronounced here, too! :)

Sageweb--I plan on it! :)

Mary Ruth--French Room? LOL! :)

Daisy's Mom--I think I remember seeing the dog sleeping on the cool glass, too! :)

Buck--ain't it the greatest?? :)

Diane-chickie--it is very supportive, is it not? :)

Leah--yep, I love having one doorman and zero cars! :)

Barb--I know whatcha mean. :)

Thanks, Sling. :)

Maria--see? That's what people always think...but Iwanski and I are SO not rich. :) I'm telling ya', if you ever come to Chicago, we'll have to meet up! :)