I still didn’t know if it was cherry or mahogany. It appeared to me that the two trees had merged to produce the wood that was before me. I’d sat in this chair for 17 years, yet it remained a mystery to me. The chair always fascinated me. My fingertips brushed the hard wood as nostalgia filled my heart and dissipated throughout my being. Caleb, 6, rocking back and forth with a coloring book in his lap, and the most serious of expressions on his face asked if work was always this hard. Then, he was 11 and 3 year-old Annie was perched next to him. The majestic arms of the chair enveloped them. They were posing for a picture to celebrate their first Bring Your Child to Work Day together and my eyes instinctively drifted to the spot on the desk where the picture used to reside. I allowed a sigh to escape my lips. Countless hours had been lost in this chair. Crunching numbers, writing reports, answering calls and drafting emails. My life’s work rested within this chair and I shuddered. Late nights, missed birthdays, microwave dinners and hearty cries had been endured here, and I could think of nothing else that I had to show for it. Realization that immeasurable amounts of work had been done in this chair, but had amounted to nothing dawned on me and I was swift to lift my cardboard box and exit the room. I looked down in shame and found the picture of Annie and Caleb in the chair smiling up at me from the top of my cardboard box. Timidly, I crept back into the room and took one last photograph of the chair. The empty chair, to remind me of where I’d come from.
January 10, 2011