There isn’t a time in my life that I have not been aware of The Desk.
It is over a hundred years old and was apparently built in London. My grandfather bought it for himself when he first went into private practice. (He was a doctor.) It stayed with him through that practice until he retired and gave it to my mother the psychonaut. She used it over the course of her own working life as a surgery manager until my own father retired from his private practice. It was also the nerve centre of family administration.
Now it is mine.
MMTP came down to The Hawkesbury last week when all my shit finally arrived… when my ship literally came in. We put it back together in my own home office/library, in amongst many hours of unpacking.
It was almost two years ago that she said she wanted me to have the desk. My parents were moving from the family home into their newly-built death house and there was neither the need nor the space for The Desk. (In many ways, I’m sure she’s glad to be rid of it. Who wants a permanent reminder of decades of bill-paying and number crunching?)
When she said this, I knew I was going to end up back in Australia. It was my first inkling that it would happen. The Desk would summon me, I would not summon it.
And here we both are.
You can tell it is an object from another time. There is no hole for computer cables. To the left and the right of the bureau are the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ slots for numerous, handwritten correspondences. The key still locks the roller, to keep personal patient information secure overnight. Multiple generations of my family’s prosperity were tied to The Desk’s proper functioning.
The past week has involved the sometimes-fun-sometimes-really-fucking-annoying job of unpacking and collating a few thousand books into an actual personal library. What must be within arm’s reach of The Desk? Which topic areas go where? I tried to frontrun this process in London by using colour-coded stickers on the spines of books so they could be easily clumped back together (Early Modern magic, Pacific mythology, etc).
It was to no avail. I had no idea even where I’d be living on the entire continent, or how much space we would have, or even what that space would feel like and need. This can only be done when you find out where you are going to live… in my case in a deconsecrated churchyard in one of the state’s most haunted towns.
It’s been a fascinating experience… one that reminds me why I like rearranging my life so dramatically (in retrospect). The river is literally at the end of my street, the town is filled with spirits wandering through their old haunts (oldest Catholic church on the mainland, second-oldest Catholic cemetery, hanging grounds, etc). And -because this is a rural area- I get to spread great sacks of mushroom compost still thick with webs of running mycelium in my backyard/churchyard in which I’m growing a whole bunch of herbs.
There is something faintly proto-hermetic about rearranging yourself and your physical objects -including ‘power’ objects- and watching a new variant of your life and thoughts emanate from said rearrangement. There is a language or structure to it that you are aware of but can’t quite get your head around… like learning how to speak again after head trauma or something.
All of these factors -the clear view of Southern stars, the mountains at my back, the great flocks of cockatoo that fly directly overhead back to their homes each evening, the spirits, the possums I will inevitably cartoon-battle for my herbs, the books that are in reach, the overflow books on the new shelving in the garage, the river, the enormous blue-tongue lizard that lives in my drive, all our little kitchen treasures from Paris or Tuscany now in their new home- constellate, for me at least, around The Desk… and what it means for the next phase in my journey… and its own.