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The Restoration
by Elizabeth Ashbaucher
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Hi… over here… yes, it's me...yes I'm talking to you...okay, don't freak out. I know furniture doesn't talk much. Well, I guess furniture doesn't really talk at all, but that doesn't mean we aren't paying attention. I see you sitting there trying to sort the thoughts racing through your mind. You feel alone, unseen, functional but not really wanted, like your covered by layers and layers of stuff that hide the beauty of the real you underneath. Yes, there is beauty beneath all those layers of protection that suffocate you. I know, I used to be like that too.

Many years ago, my life began in a cabinet shop. Back then my drawers still had all their dividers, which made me a very good organizer, and the gloss of my finished wood glistened. As I stood in the store front for those first few months waiting to be purchased, I dreamed of where I would live, and what kind of things would fill my drawers. Would I fit into a sewing room, or perhaps a laboratory? The possibilities were endless. Finally, a couple bought me and placed me in their kitchen. This was going to be fun! Then came the coat of ugly, green paint, choking and smothering me. With each gasping breath, my heart sank a little more. Only one thought sustained me, I was useful. After all, I had a home and things to put in my drawers. I should be content, right?

Time passed and life settled into a rhythm. Then it happened, the remodel. This time the paint was blue and it made breathing even more difficult. With each gasping breath, I reminded myself I was useful, and that is all that mattered. Ultimately, even that was taken from me as my owners tiered of my presence and moved me to the shed. There in the cold, damp, dark I found myself entirely forgotten. Sure, there were things in my drawers but no one every opened them. My dividers were taken out and lost. Over time mildew began to eat through the edges of the paint. It made it a little easier to breathe but the smell made me wonder if breathing was worth it.

Eventually, my owners sold the house and moved, leaving me in the possession of a kindly, old grandma. She found me in the shed and had her grandsons move me back into the house, but not before I had been given another coat of paint. It was thick, to cover a the ugly blue-green mildew, and white to brighten me. Grandma even made new labels for each of my drawers. I tried to beam in my restored place in her sewing room, but being smothered under all those layers of paint had left me weak and despondent. My renewed glimmer of joy was buried beneath pain, even as I was coated in layers of paint.

The peaceful time with Grandma ended the day she passed away. Her children came and emptied all of my drawers, before selling me to an antique store. There I sat for year after year, unwanted, forgotten, with my white paint fading under layers of dust, until the day a new lady came into the store. She loved to cook and was looking for more counter space in her kitchen. Thinking I would be the perfect solution, she bought me and took me home. Hope rose ever so slightly as things began to occupy each of my drawers again . As the years passed, the layers of paint that suffocated me continued to chip away. Eventually, small whiffs of what was being cooked filtered through. However, breathing came with a price. The chipping paint made me look shabby and out of place in the beautiful kitchen.

One morning, an unfamiliar voice echoed off of the hardwood floors. This was not unusual. Many guests visited every week, walking blindly past me. Somehow, this one was different. This girl was looking at me, intentionally! She ran her hand gently across my wood, then opened one of my drawers. My lady asked, "What do you think? We can move it outside and put it up on blocks."

Memories of life in the shed came flooding back, and a deep depression with them. In panic and fear my mind raced. They are moving me again? What if they forget about me? What if they paint me again!?! Only scattered fragments of conversation broke through the wall of despair. The girl 's surprised voice, "It moves? I thought for sure it had always been here. It looks like it belongs." Followed by a confident "I bet the wood under there is beautiful." Hope flickered.

A few days passed and the event faded in my mind. Perhaps the paint fumes were finally getting to me or maybe I had dreamed the entire affair. Suddenly, strong hands lifted me and carried me out side. Through the inky, black cloud of terror a gentle voice soothed. "Good morning beautiful. Let's see what they hid under all that hideous paint." It was the girl and she was talking to me! She hummed as she sprayed something cold on my side. At first it tickled, but then, the burning! Surely, fire was consuming me as the girl sat back and watched. Confusion was replaced by rage. She just sat there humming, not a care in the world, while I writhed in agony. After a few minute she rose, putting on rubber work gloves, she walked over to me, "Let's see what's under there, shall we?." Taking up a scraper, she began to peel away the layers of paint with long steady strokes.

Occasionally, she would stop and reapply the paint stripper. It burned every time, but with each new application breathing became easier. Sometimes, she would talk to me and tell me how beautiful my wood was or how sorry she was that foolish people had covered me in such ugly paint. Other times she would sing softly as she worked. Eventually, the stripping ended and the sanding began. For the most, part the scratching felt good, but in the spots where the paint had soaked into my wood, she would have to cut a little more deeply. All the while she continued singing and describing my beauty.

Finally, after days of stripping and sanding came the most wonderful surprise, oil! She drizzled it onto my bare wood and began to rub it in with a soft cloth. It was readily absorbed, like rain into sun scorched earth. Never had I tasted anything so sweet! There was still more sanding to be done, but after each sanding there was more of that wonderful, marvelous oil!

Now, sitting here in this kitchen I am all that I was created to be. Not only are my drawers full, I am loved and wanted. And as a bonus, I get to tell my story to you. The girl who restored me used to tell stories about her big brother. He likes to find the hidden beauty beneath like she does. While her chosen medium is wood, He prefers to find the beauty buried within humans' souls. If you'll let Him, He'll strip away the layers of life that smother you and sand you smooth. Then polish you with that marvelous oil. He loves to restore lives, making beauty from pain.

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