My Grown-Up Desk


I remember visiting my Great Aunt Ann when I was about 7 or 8. At that time she lived in an apartment in a house in Martha’s Vineyard. During the summers, when the rent was higher, she would find tenants to rent part of the space, which was always an adventure. She had a couch covered in patchwork denim which I think was where her art therapy clients were supposed to sit, although I don’t think such clients actually existed. She was very whimsical and would swim every day and complained about her bad back and drove a really old Volvo with a lot of sand in it. Then, as now, she seemed to live like a charming cat, pulling things from thin air, acting according to her own whims. One of the best things was walking in the dark warm air at night to get ice cream cones. But I think the really best thing was her desk. A slanted artist’s desk lit by a bending lamp, and on it an entire set of colored pencils sharpened and waiting. It seemed so magical and inviting and sophisticated.

When I was a kid, there were certain things that I knew I wanted to have or be when I grew up. And then along the way I forgot about those intentions, or maybe not forgot but ingested them entirely. Because sometimes they show up here in my adult life, as if they were a point on the map that I had been walking toward without remembering why.

Today I looked down at my desk (built by Brian), lit by a bending lamp (impulse buy from a yard sale in Maine), with a couple of colored pencils and a pile of paper on top, and thought, here it is: my Great Aunt Ann’s desk—my 7-year-old idea of what being a grown-up artist looks like.