Victoria Neumark inherited a houseful of old oak furniture; it is dark, depressing, oppressive. Friends tell her to get rid of it, but how can she when her family’s history is in its very grain?
‘You should get rid of that furniture,” say my friends. Dark oak, redolent of 20s provincial Germany: it doesn’t fit in these light, breezy times for interior decoration.
But I like the furniture. It is comfortable. Its gloominess is comfortable. It allows me to be gloomy, if need be. And it sets off merriness, too. The table seats 26, if you pull out all the leaves, and is perfect for family reunions, Passover and birthdays. I feel free within the constraints of the furniture, just as I used to feel free when I hid under the table with my younger sister, as a little girl.
In the shadowy tent formed by the tablecloth we played house for hours, sheltering. It was not clear what we were sheltering from: my mother’s depression, my father’s rages or just the dusty boredom of the days. In retrospect, those were the good days, but at the time they seemed to go slower than the ticking of the grandfather clock.
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