Thursday, December 31, 2015

How a Ping Pong Table changed my Life

I still remember the day I started moving into my first house in Boise. The movers were bringing boxes in the front door of the split level home and asking me where I would like them stacked . I had to make a solid decision because it was literally an Up or Down decision. There was no in between. Anyone who came through the front door had to decide in 2 steps or less where they wanted to go because the house was awkwardly separated into two equal levels with a 5x5  entry way in the middle. Within about 4 hours, I knew I had made a mistake. What was I thinking? I bought a 70's house! It had oak paneling and forest green carpet. It was HIDEOUS and it was mine. I lived there for 4 years, ashamed to invite anyone over for fear that they too would realize I was not cool enough to be their friend, since I lived in an ugly house, which naturally means I must be an ugly person. After 4 years, we were relieved of the ugly house as part of our failed business venture. I was traumatized by the failure, but secretly relieved to be free of the house. 


It wasn't the first ugly house I lived in and it wasn't the last. I'll save you the details, but we struggled for another 4 years before we saved the necessary money to purchase another one. During those 4 years, I continued to feel ashamed of my surroundings. I continued to tie my self worth to the appearance of my dwelling. I kept right on isolating myself and my children from people around us because I was afraid they would find out I was an ugly person living in an ugly home. In 2008, it happened. We saved the 20% down payment for a home of our choosing. I was ecstatic to finally be moving into a space that I could invite people over to. A place where I could feel safe and secure in my value because pretty people live in pretty houses.  I had so much fun furnishing and decorating and organizing. I loved walking into this new home and feeling...beautiful. Because my house was beautiful. I especially loved the open, spacious dining room and living room. The dining room has beautiful wood floors and huge picture windows that provide the ideal setting for hosting large dinner parties. Life was good.

Then my son took up Ping Pong. It started innocently enough with games at school and friends houses. He seemed to really enjoy it, but we are not a sporty family so I didn't think much of it. Then one day back in October, he asked if we could purchase a ping pong table. Sure, I said. We can put one on the back porch.  Except it snows here and no one wants to play ping pong in the snow. Then we can put it in the theater. Except the theater is too small. The only place in the house large enough to accommodate a ping pong table was...you guessed it...the living room. I stated a compromise that seemed acceptable to me-we would keep the ping pong table on the back porch, and roll it into the living room on the rare occasions that someone actually wanted to play. I was sure it would be maybe twice per month.  It came to live with us in November. A beautiful, Stiga, professional ping pong table. Larger than any ping pong table i've ever seen. And my husband set it up right in the middle of my living room. And it's stayed there pretty much ever since. 



It doesn't match my Pier 1 decor at all. At first glance, it is large, ugly, and definitely an eyesore. I'm a bit of a minimalist and it makes the whole space seem cluttered and closed. I also LOVE the sound of silence, so the constant bouncing of balls and smacking of paddles is pretty troubling. It also seems to attract clutter like all horizontal surfaces do. Its frequently home to a stack of papers and a half complete school project. It could be my worst nightmare come true...if it didn't make my family so damn happy. Multiple times every day, my son invites another family member to play a game. Teenage friends come over and break into a smile when they walk in and see the table. Our homeschool recess is so much more enjoyable now that theres actually something to do. We've spent a lot of hours talking and laughing around this monstrosity of a table and suddenly it doesn't matter so much how it looks. It doesn't matter that my living room is imperfect. 


I am amazed and humbled and grateful that it took a Ping Pong table to teach me that its not about the house. I had it so backwards for so many years, falsely believing that my value was a reflection of my surroundings. The Ping Pong table taught me that its the value of the people what determine the value of the home. SO now I have a Ping Pong table in my living room, because I value children, not houses.