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.