I am thinking today about the power of a desk. A lot of us are spending more time at home during lock down, while other of us are working from home, and many of us own a desk anyways. What made you choose your desk? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Is it comfortable? Have you resorted to sitting in other spots around your home other than your desk? Does it help break up thinking about things that you miss? Do you even need a physical desk to have a desk? These are a few things that have gone through my mind lately while sitting in solitude here in Detroit, MI.
The desk in the photo was my Grandmother's. She is the one that gave me my first camera and launched me on the path that I am on now when I was just ten years old. She did most of her work at this desk. It sat in a front room of her house that had a linoleum floor with red brick patterns, several white wire framed shelves around the room to hold photos, sewing material, Avon merchandise that she sold, and other keepsakes. There was a border of teddy bear wall paper around the top of the walls near the ceiling that said the phrase "The stuff dreams are made of". I can vividly recall the space as if it were just yesterday.
My Grandmother received this desk in 1942 for a wedding gift when she married my Grandfather. Seventy-eight years later, here it sits in what is now my space for the time being here in Michigan. She would often work at this desk well into the late night as I do (perhaps something about being a fellow creative?).
I remember that my brother and I would sit at an end of the desk, or in front of it on a cardboard table working on personal projects with things like baseball card collections, playing Monopoly, or eating food while Grandma worked.
It is pure coincidence that I am sitting at this desk writing to you all today, but in many ways, I still feel her spirit present. She would be one of the first to go out of her way to help people right now with what is going on in the world in any way that she could. Sitting at this desk and remembering that about her is what led me to start embracing teaching photography online after all of my workshops and in person classes were cancelled. Sitting at this desk also inspired me to take a leap of faith to start 79 punks to release a line of t-shirts and merchandise to raise support for mental health awareness. So I feel her working her magic even many years later after she passed.
I just posted a photo on my Instagram from one of the last nights that I was in New York City before I intended to visit Detroit for a few months to see family before moving on to other things. On the night that I made that photo, I was getting off of the subway in Midtown Manhattan when a homeless man threw a handful of what had to be at least 100 pennies at me. Just months before my Grandmother passed away many years ago, she told me that any time she was guiding me, or that I was doing something that she approved of, that I would find two pennies. I find more pennies (power of my mind perhaps?) than I don't know what! But 100 pennies is fifty Grandma's folks! Grandma meant business! I spoke with my Mom the day after, and she told me that was Grandma telling me to "get the fuck out of NYC!".
Somehow I was led from New York to spend time here at this desk. I have inherited the desk now, and it will travel with me to wherever I end up after this whole pandemic clears, and I am able to regain stable employment once again. But in the meantime, the power of the desk compels me to keep creating, to spend time with family, to keep reaching out and lifting others up as best I can, and to remember to be kind to myself. It is not easy with all of the loss that has been personally experienced with this pandemic, but my Grandma is out there somehow sending things to keep me going at this desk.