Kitchen Dweller


Morning work station. Pen. Notebook. Coffee. Cookies within reach. Check.

I’m in the kitchen writing. It’s a rainy Sunday morning, I’m sipping coffee and clicking away at the keyboard. From ground level, I hear a short growl and then I feel a paw on my thigh. That cat wants up. I lift my left arm and she vaults onto my thigh and sits there as though it’s December in a mall and she’s about to tell me about the Chewbacca Lego kit she wants me to bring her.

She tentatively makes the leap to the table, where she roams around before settling behind my computer. She comes back to my side, stares at the screen and offers small editing advice in disgruntled chirps. When she’s had enough, she splits off into the living room, where she does some facsimile of the same thing to Burke.

My new flat has three main rooms in which one doesn’t poop or shower. Living room, bedroom, and kitchen. They are all pleasant in their own way. The living room windows look onto the backyard and so it’s peacefully quiet. It gets no direct light in the morning, so it’s mellow and cool and it gets a nice breeze. The bedroom gets that nice morning light and the room is usually warm and comfy. It’s also about .0007 seconds closer to the bathroom than the living room, which can be important to men in their advancing years. The kitchen is cozy, cool, and bright. Plus, it’s where my cookies and coffee live.

Whenever I go home and stay at my parents’ house, I know just where to find them and what they’re doing. Without fail. My dad is usually sitting at the kitchen table and my mom is somewhere in the living room.

My dad sits in the only chair he will use – the soft-backed one that has acquired the mood and temperament of a Berlin war relic. In front of him are a book, a Nook, two pens, and the remote control, which is covered in something sweet: lemon filling, chocolate syrup, powdered sugar. The fridge is a two-step trek. The television, about three and a half feet away, is showing baseball or a B movie in black and white. It is at such a volume that the neighbors weigh in on the umpire’s questionable calls.  

Once my mom puts away the shopping, makes dinner, does the dishes, and then cleans the kitchen there’s no reason for her to be in there. She moves to the living room, where she will be found perched above the business end of a laundry basket, packing school lunches for her grandkids, or putting together some odd gadget that she found in Target and whose existential goal is surprisingly specific. It’s a wire hanger straightener. That machine cleans the bottom of lamps. The television is showing Law and Order, a left-leaning political talk show, or a Philadelphia Eagles game. If my sister is with her, the TV may be showing a Hallmark Christmas movie. This will also be evidenced by the pained look being partially concealed on my mom’s face. Somewhere in this room is a bowl of popcorn or chips.

Interestingly, while I was growing up, this was 100% opposite. My dad was always in the living room and my mom did her work in the kitchen. He watched our main TV and she watched the black and white TV on the kitchen counter. As a kid, I found this to be the most prominent difference between the sexes – men sat in the living room and women hung out in the kitchen. Both parties existed there minding their own, but mostly hoping the other party would just leave them be. For the most part, this wish was granted.

So I have found that I am a kitchen dweller. I like writing in the kitchen in the morning and even watching television here when I’m done. I cook every day and I’ll watch a show on my laptop on the counter. I read here, do office work, and write emails. There’s a nice window that gets light at all times of the day. Plus I find it comforting to watch my neighbors shuffle to or from work. And the cookies are always within reach.

Burke is a living room dweller. She works in there, teaching online classes. She cuts up cards and pictures and builds microphones and other objects I can’t quite decipher. Is that a dog’s ear? The bouch (bed-couch) is covered in these props, plus the tools of a kid’s classroom, scissors, tape, glue. If you look around, you will find a camouflaged Easter basket with a dwindling supply of chocolate eggs.

Though I have tried to gussy this post up with some psychological rendering of what a person’s preferred room says about them, I wasn’t able to do that. Well, not satisfyingly anyway. There were some analyses of what your décor says, but I’m pretty sure my décor says I’d rather buy food than have something I can refer to as décor. I suppose it’s all functional. We have space to do the things we need.

The cat’s the one who’s got the whole place figured this out. In the morning she stands on the bedroom window sill and squints into the sun and then she does a morning nap on the kitchen counter where the sun beams in. In the afternoon she ends up under the covers in the living room. In the late afternoon she sits on the window sill in the living room, eating up the rays. At night she sleeps on the bathroom rug until she wakes up and decides to stand on my stomach.

Where do you dwell, reader, and why?

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