I had been teaching at the Nebraska Writers Conference all week, and on my way back to Ames, Iowa (where I lived and worked at the time), my buddy (and former colleague) Dean Bakopoulos called, said he needed my help moving something, and asked me to drop by the university on my way home.
There I discovered my office door cracked open, with light and music falling through the crack. And then my wife's laughter when I found her inside.
While I was away, my wife had enlisted the grad students and arranged an office makeover. The walls had been painted a storm-cloud gray. My pictures were framed and hung. Wooden bookshelves, arranged by author and genre, ran along one wall. A wine-red chair sat in the corner with a matching ottoman. Next to it was the desk.
At the university I used whatever Nixon-era model came with the office — metal framed, plastic topped — and at home I used a crumbling composite wood desk bought for $40 off Craigslist.
This was solid wood, maple the color of caramel, Ethan Allen. I felt sick with gratitude, and weirdly grown-up. For ...