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Uma secretária com vista
A desk with a view

I love my workplace, my desk with a view. Yet something had to change. For years – actually since we lived here – we have wanted a different desk. Because our double desk – we sit opposite each other – which was once designed by Coen for the office we had in Spain, is actually too bulky for this space. After much deliberation, we found two simple tables of the right size that can be arranged in an L. On Thursday, we took things down and installed the new tables. The large desk has been given a new function in Coen’s studio. 

Man has many ways of establishing that he is getting older. Then I am not talking about physical health. No, habits and habituation, that’s what I’m talking about. Routine things. Last week, I noticed one such habitual thing. Throughout my life, in the absence of real moves, I have done a lot of moving indoors. At least three times a year, I changed the layout of the house. Much to the annoyance of husband and children. When they came home from school or the office, they suddenly had a different room or the living room had become the dining room. They all got used to it. To those changes. I loved doing that. For me, it felt like a new beginning every time. 

In our house in Portugal, I have fewer options so I move as little as possible and my need for change is less. Besides, the protests are of a different calibre these days. No! No changes! Life is already unsettled enough in the world! As if moving furniture removes all certainties, I then thought to myself. 

And now a strange thing is happening. Every time I sit down at my desk, I have the feeling of losing everything. This is true because the worktop is smaller. Whereas before I never saw Coen because we sat opposite each other and our Macs were back to back, now I can see him. Also, my worktop is higher. Fortunately, my chair is adjustable. My diary and notebook are now on the desk instead of on the drawer unit under the desk as before. That space is no longer there. My collection of Buddhas no longer fits on the desk. For them, I was able to clear a shelf in the bookcase behind me. I have to look back to see them. Annoying. So I get up after ten minutes and go do something else. 

When I noticed all my resistance in the form of grumbling thoughts, I knew what time it was. I had become accustomed to something. Is that a bad thing? No, of course not. For me who has always found that changing ingredients makes you eat, it was new though to feel that everything in my body was protesting against this change. 

After three days of watching, drifting, circling and occasionally taking a seat at my desk, I can finally sit quietly again and write, study, read and listen to podcasts like before. It still doesn’t feel 100 per cent familiar and my priceless view is thankfully exactly the same.