My most memorable moments in the last year have taken place at my kitchen table.
There are only four chairs around the table, and my daughter and her best friend spilled bright yellow paint on the lovely fabric that covers them – and that’s not even the worst of the damage they’ve endured. When more than the four of us gather, we pull over the white wooden chair from my desk or the folding chair I accidentally stole from a neighbor. A stack of milk crates has even served as extra seating once or twice. My kitchen table is not, in other words, the most comfortable place in my home.
But for some reason, it’s where we connect.
When Faiqa and her husband stopped by and we finally got to chat face-to-face after 18 months of being in different states, we sat at the table.
When Carly came over for dessert after yoga and we talked until long after we probably both should have been in bed, we sat at the table.
When Devin brought home a disappointing report card and we hacked out a plan for making up and moving on, we sat at the table.
Despite better décor and more time and money spent on other parts of the home, it seems everyone instinctively knows that the place where we meet is in our kitchen, around that 1950s table.
In our last house, it was the kitchen island. In the house before that, it was our back patio. The house before that, our first house, never really had a gathering spot – perhaps that’s why we never really fell in love with that place.
At our neighbor’s house, the spot seems to be their front porch – at least in the summer.
In my parents’ house when I was growing up, their kitchen table had the same pull. There were only three chairs and it was nestled in the corner of the kitchen. Around the corner was a full-sized dining room table in a full-sized dining room, and a living room was just a few steps further away. But we always crowded in the kitchen to share our stories and solve the problems of the world. Whether there were two of us or ten, we were drawn to that point of connection.
I wonder if those spots possess some kind of magic. Maybe there’s some kind of chi or something that people are attracted to, some kind of vibration that says “come here to get what you need.” I don’t know what makes the spot the spot, but I do know that everyone who comes into our home seems to instinctively head there.
And I know that the look of the spot doesn’t matter. Neither does the size or the comfort. No, what draws us there, I can’t say, but what keeps us there for hours is clear: the power of connection.
I know there’s magic in that.
Where do people gather to connect in your home?