My first writing space was a half-office and library in our attic, a place my parents rarely used outside of tax season and that I had mostly to myself. I hammered out stories on a manual typewriter, all in capital letters, since the shift key was too much to deal with given my hunt-and-peck methods.
I did have my own room; what I lacked was a desk. I asked for a desk for my birthday, where I could spread out my art projects, my chemistry set and microscope, and my notebooks of scribbles. Like most children, I was a real dilettante. My dad took me to various furniture stores and department stores. He was frustrated because I didn’t want any of the desks I saw. They were all made for children, pint-sized, with a modest work area and a few drawers.
Fortunately for both of us, I found the perfect desk at a garage sale. It was a massive, formidable workspace, made of real wood, and painted a deep shade of green that the can probably called “Tropical Rainforest,” or perhaps, “Oregon Pine.” I think my dad paid five bucks for it, but the real challenge was hauling the thing home.
It was my desk for the next few years, until we moved, when it went into storage and waited for me to go to college. I’d forgotten about it, and was delighted to find out we still had the green monster. The desk was too huge to take with me as I moved around the country after college to be a vista volunteer and a graduate student, and was certainly too big to fit into my Ford Escort anyway. I imagined eventually I would haul it in a buddy’s pickup to Minneapolis, once I bought a house. Unfortunately, like a lot of things I had back at my parents’ house in Grand Forks, it was lost in the flood of ’97.
By some miracle of fate, I found another oversized, incredibly heavy desk to replace it. It was obviously designed for an office environment, not a home. It was abandoned in an apartment building where I lived, and I took it for another ten years of productive use. That’s the desk that saw Mudville through its many phases. It got hauled away this year when my wife got her craft room. The room of my own is now a corner of the basement, and the desk is a practical, completely servicable, computer table… which I rarely use, preferring to sit on the couch with a laptop, half-watching a game or movie, and asking my wife to catch me up on everything I miss as I try to multitask. Torii watches jealously from the nearby end table, wondering how he lost his place to some other warm black thing.
He would have liked that green desk. There would be plenty of room for a computer and monitor, a few stacks of paper, and still serve a lounging panther-sized housecat.
When: 1978 – Present
Where: Grand Forks, Minneapolis