I Don't Have Child Support, But I Do Have My Dining Room Table
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January 05, 2014

There is nothing like a woman screwed over by a man to rally support from other women.

An example: Pam, who's a friend of my friend Laurie, is a PR exec. When Laurie told her my ex had money for a new kitchen, but not for child support, Pam was apoplectic. She offered to spearhead a campaign to raise money so I could hire a forensic accountant, and prove that Prince had the funds for child support. She envisioned a web site, a media blitz, a Lifetime Original movie, an Oprah clarion call to women nation-wide, entreating them to log into their paypal accounts and donate $25 not just for me, but for justice.

Becoming the Norma Rae of single mothers is an appealing thought. Even if the forensics couldn't dig out a paper trail of money, publicizing my case could bring attention to the plight of so many women reduced to serving Top Ramen for dinner, and possibly bring some order to the chaotic family court system.

But after much mulling-over, I decided I do not have the stamina to endure another battle with Prince. Chances are I'd still lose and disappoint all the women investing in me. And I have spent way, waaaay too much time being diminished by someone whose biggest accomplishment is inheriting money, to be diminished yet again.

Which brings me to my dining room table.

 Can you see the warped front corners?

When I wrote about having to downgrade to an apartment too small for my beloved dining room table -- the family heirloom that I grew up with, that has followed me to every domicile for the past 25 years -- some people felt that I needed to let go of the table, not just physically, but emotionally.

I understand why they said that. It's good advice. Advice well-heeded by another woman, perhaps, but not by me.

Part of the reason I'm in my current pickle is that I've put other people's opinons ahead of my own. Some of those opinions led me into two marriages that never should have happened and a naive exodus from the first.  

I have no one to blame but myself. People spoke with the best intentions and the outcomes could have been different. Prince is a great husband for his second wife. Most women divorcing a wealthy man get child support. And many ex-husbands do love their children more than they hate their ex-wives.

The only good thing about listening to the wrong advice is that I've started listening to myself. And I told myself that I had lost too much to a bad divorce to lose my table: one of the few stable, constant things left in my life. I told myself I would find some way to fit it in the apartment.

So I did. Or, rather, the movers did. Because the table wouldn't fit in the elevator, they hauled it up ten flights of stairs. Ten flights! I placed it flush against the wall in the living room. Instead of crowding the room, it has the surprising effect of opening up the space. When you sit at the table, you have a fantastic Rear-Window view into other living rooms in the surrounding high rises, and beyond those, the hills hugging the city skyline. 

I cannot construct a sentence eloquent enough to describe my sense of triumph. I didn't listen to the leasing agent who told me my table was a foot too long for the elevator. I didn't listen to the neighbor who told me she'd had to sell her couch for the same reason. I didn't listen to the people who told me the table just wasn't that important, and I should let it go.

I listened to the still, small voice inside me that suddenly boomed, I'm going to get that table in that fucking apartment if it's the last thing I do.

And who would have thought? It's never graced a space as elegantly as it does in this one.


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