I originally brought Billsta home to my mother’s house from Ikea about five years ago. My mother needed a small breakfast table and it was the perfect size for her small kitchen. I remember putting it together by following one of those wordless direction pamphlets that comes with everything from there. It was simple enough because there were only three parts to put together: the smooth round 27 1/2″ melamine table top, the 40″ base and the four piece foot stand. I fished out the correct screws and had it put together in a few minutes with very little effort. The chairs that match have short rounded backs and I really like the way my body fits perfectly in them. Billsta is of a sturdy Swedish design that didn’t look prone to wobbling, which I loved. I smoothed my hand across the surface in sweet satisfaction. there would be no splintering or splitting. For years my mother had a table in her kitchen that wobbled as soon as someone sat down. All through meals it would wobble and that became the norm. But Billsta would never wobble. Swedish engineering made sure of that.
We sold my mother’s house in the spring of last year, and by June I moved to a new apartment on the thirteenth floor. I had the movers put Billsta on the west facing balcony. It was summer when I moved in and I thought it would be the perfect place to have my tea or coffee in the morning. Billsta looked much smaller in my place than it had at my mother’s house. It looked great on the balcony and left plenty of room for a recliner and end table that I had my eye on, but still haven’t purchased. I used Billsta often, sipping tea and occasionally coffee. Resting my mug on its smooth melamine surface. The balcony is high enough and far away from neighbors that I didn’t feel awkward shuffling out in my bathrobe with my hair a mess to execute my morning ritual; tea in my mug, feet propped up on the second chair, and the morning light dancing on the glass of the downtown buildings now pink, then orange then settling nicely into a cheery yellow. Billsta and I were getting along very nicely.
I brought the chairs inside the first time it rained. They have these little round beige cushions on them, and I didn’t want them to get wet and squishy. I brought them inside again when I was traveling in the summer months. I brought them in yet again when I started teaching in the fall because I didn’t want an unexpected rain to ruin them. I found other uses for the chairs, like standing on one when I needed to store something at the top of my closet, or when cleaning the top shelf of my tall bookcases. I even sat on one as I read a book one afternoon. Billsta stayed outside. I even thought of bringing Billsta inside for dinner. You should know that Billsta looks unimposing, but is actually heavy and I just didn’t want to be weighed down by it. I thought it would just get in my way and invade my space. I have no real need for Billsta in my immediate living space. It’s well suited on the balcony.
It is now mid-February and for the past few days I’ve been writing on my laptop occasionally looking out the glass doors at Billsta. It’s been out there on the balcony all these months withstanding sun, rain, wind and more recently, snow. I’ve only now just noticed that all this time Billsta looked so dependable and solid out there on the balcony. But now I see it moved from the place I originally had it. It’s closer to the railing now. In fact, one of the feet of the base is under the black iron railing tucked into the four inch space between the concrete and the bottom of the iron railing. I have a feeling Billsta is distancing itself away from me. Did Billsta feel so neglected that it slowly made its way to the edge?
I walk across the room now and upon closer inspection, I see Billsta’s smooth melamine surface is warped. It is slightly slanted now – not much – just enough from me to notice its disappointed frown. There is some water resting there. Looking like a stain of tears. The table in it’s dying has come to life. Billsta has given up on me but still stands strong. In the cold, gray afternoon, with the still white sky, I realize there has been no one resting their teacup on Billsta. No one running their hands across its once smooth malamine surface. I haven’t been there to appreciate Billsta as it was meant to be enjoyed. it’s become a dirty, cold, warped shell of a table. Damaged from neglect and disuse.
And now, it seems, I have a decision to make.