My father’s pawn on my table

These days I feel better with the television news playing in the background, even though it’s nothing but nonstop dread and pharmaceutical advertisements. I want mainstream information, the sense of something shared. I find comfort in the illusion of bodies across the nation gathered before the same broadcast rather than privately scrolling through the algorithmically tailored hysteria and moralizing of the internet.

Today I bought a few pieces of lumber from the hardware store, dredged my toolbox from the closet, and spent the afternoon sawing, sanding, and varnishing. I needed to work with my hands. To be reminded that I can make something that takes up space and serves a need. I built a small table to collect the overflow from my desk.

Perhaps I’m turning into my father and grandfather, men who retreated into their garages to build wooden vases and boxes in times of distress. So many half-finished widgets littered their workbenches after they died, their function and intentions unknown. I thought about them both as I worked, wondering what they would make of these pandemic days.

After I finished my table, I found the pawn my father carved five years ago to replace the one we’d lost from our set. We’d gotten into the habit of playing chess each night at the hospital while we waited for his new lung. He whittled it quickly and I can still see the blade coming dangerously close to his oxygen tubes. This pawn is one of my most cherished possessions. Tonight I set it on my new table, a small gesture of the communion I crave.


Flying Saucer Attack – Instrumental Wish

From Distance | Domino, 1994 | Spotify

One of the songs I’ve played the most over the past two decades. And more than ever these days.

Each night in 2020 I wrote a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I wanted to etch these times into my memory. Before the world changed completely.