By Denise Trull
On the subject of driftwood lamps...I bet you never knew there was such a subject. But in my own family history the driftwood lamp has a brief but illustrious place on the episodic timeline.
I hadn't thought much of driftwood lamps for many years, truth be told. But one morning Tony surprisingly announced over his bowl of oatmeal: “I had a dream last night”. These words made me take pause. I had never heard them come out of his mouth before.
You see, Tony, who is quite a patient man otherwise, takes no stock in dreams and has no patience for the dreams of others. He would always tell one of my children, who liked to go endlessly on in glorious detail about his vivid, if incomprehensible, dreams from the night before - “You get five minutes…tops.”
But here was a declaration. Tony had a dream.
Apparently, in this dream, I was enthusiastically decorating the house and I ended by putting our old driftwood lamp in a prominent place on the old, beautiful coffee table for all to see. I laughed out loud at this point, secretly rejoicing that there was absolutely no basis for this chimera in concrete reality.
If the awful truth be told, the driftwood lamp and I had, at best, an uneasy alliance for many years until it suddenly vanished into thin air. No one can explain its sudden disappearance from the scene. And who am I to question one of life's mysteries, I ask you?
The driftwood lamp came into my life with my first "I Do". So,"I did" because Tony LOVED this lamp, along with some wild and crazy Hawaiian shirts he smuggled into the marriage. In a sense I inherited this gloriously kitschy item and because I loved Tony, I had to love - well, love might be too strong a word, here. Let’s just say I tolerated the lamp and leave it at that.
It did have a noteworthy and illustrious career for a time. It became the setting for many a little lego man battle, a stuffed animal habitat, a clever holder for the TV remote, and the preferred weapon of defense in couch wars. It had holly on it at Christmas, eggs nestled in its, eh, branches at Easter. I really gave it the old college try. I must say, it did come in quite handy during our children’s Lord of the Rings phase. Not everyone could boast a ready made Ent to hand, and it became the preferred toy of every ten year old Tolkien fanatic in the neighborhood. So, there was that going for it.
People felt compelled to remark on it when visiting. These remarks ranged from my tasteful sister’s, "What is THAT?" to some admiring boy's stamp of approval, "That's pretty cool. Can I have it when you die?" And the knowing look of old friends which wordlessly signaled in alarmed commiseration, “Inherited bachelor paraphernalia?” I nodded. No more needed be said.
The plug had to be pushed into the socket just right or the lightbulb would flicker quite alarmingly. I always felt electrocution was always on its mind - my own. For many years we lived together in peace, that lamp and I. Then one fateful day, we moved, and the lamp suddenly - vanished. Nobody knows how, nobody knows where and I ain't talkin’.
It was missed for a time. Tony pined for it in his phlegmatic way by every once in a great while musing aloud, "I wonder whatever happened to that driftwood lamp?". And me of the averted gaze and the nebulous reply, "yeh, I don't know....weird, huh?"
But on this particular morning over oatmeal, Tony had a dream. I, not he, was putting it in a prominent place. What could this mean? That maybe I secretly DID love the lamp in some sub, sub recess of my mind? Nah.
What it really means is this, I think. We had some wild, great, funny, happy years with kids broiling about us. Kids who took driftwood lamps as a matter of course. The years of the driftwood lamp were really quite fun and adventurous. The lamp was a perfect symbol of our careening, melding life. A life that over the years became as one.
I accepted his lamp and he accepted my "dead flowers" as he unceremoniously dubbed my dried flower arrangements. Our two spaghetti sauce recipes melded into one, new, taste sensation that kept our children alive through their picky toddler years. The Hawaiian shirts DID fade from the closet but then returned with a vengeance in cooler form once more - and I let them. We marveled at the way our kids received half Martel and half Trull genes which melted together to form exciting, unique little beings. I eat oatmeal because of Tony. He has decided that green beans aren’t half bad because of me. He knows why my daughter loves politics. I know why his son has reams of poetry strewn across his bedroom floor. We’ve had a great life together learning to mix it up into a unique and wonderful thing - a family! The driftwood lamp was part of it all. A symbol that the two could become as one.
I might want that lamp back. Maybe.
I confess, in a bout of nostalgia, I went looking on line and found the joke was on me. Driftwood lamps sell for $3,250.00 now. I suppose the disappearance of the lamp has denied my children a vast inheritance. Alas.
But, the moral of this story is: rejoice in the foibles. Rejoice in the differences and the sameness. Laugh out loud at all the things you thought would never be in your closet or on your coffee table, but by some hilarious miracle, are. Look at your kids to remind yourselves that yes, the two have become as one in her eyes, his nose, their mouths, in penchants for politics, in a knack for poetry, in the one who loves a pun, and in the one who has no patience for puns. Marriage is a miracle of give and take, of driftwood lamps that come and go and help us write our history. A history that tells the world that marriage is quite the wonderful ride - and that they should get on. They might even inherit a driftwood lamp!
Tony had a dream. And we can keep dreams - lamp or no lamp! God has been good to us. Praise Him.