Today, I bought a dining table at the ReStore in Rockport.

The first thing that caught my eye in the ReStore was an antique medical exam table, or maybe a birthing chair.

It sat there, across from the checkout counter, with it’s back propped up and a tiny drawer holding a pair of stirrups – somewhat polished from use – and a hammer for testing a patient’s reflexes. The chair had no padding, but for a moment I could see it fulfilling the role my mother’s La-Z-Boy is about to take on. Good support for back and legs; a stunning piece of furniture.

I was not looking for a solid oak, mission-style birthing chair. I am moving into a 700-square-foot apartment from two rooms of about the same area. The new place will have a small kitchen, which is an improvement. My home of the last 14 months was always going to be temporary. I’m not sure about this new place. For the next little while I will try to let go of that concern, stop looking for the next place.

Along with the two rooms I’m leaving, I’ve been renting a 10×15 storage unit. I have decided, since I’m not actively looking for another place, that it is time to stop paying rent just to store stuff I haven’t used in more than a year. Some it will move to the new apartment but quite a bit needs to move along.

I am one of the many Americans who has more stuff than I need. Somewhere in that last 20 years, I became custodian of the relics of two families, mine and that of my former husband. Both our mothers lived with us in the last months of their lives, bringing with them the chairs and cabinets and bookcases to which they were attached, as well as family records, personal documents, their own writings and that of their children.

Yesterday’s inventory of the storage unit showed two dining room tables, both of which would take up far too much of the room that is not a bedroom in my new place.

This last is what brought me to the ReStore.

My search for a dining table began a couple of weeks ago and kick into gear last Monday, when I signed the paperwork, paid my rent and deposits (one for the cat, and she’s worth every penny), got my keys and took as much possession as a tenant can take of a space someone else owns.

My plan was to spend at least half that day in the apartment and maybe even sleep there on a bedroll. I brought some leftover pizza from my freezer and a couple of frozen dinners from the market.

I previously measured the larger pieces of furniture and now wanted to measure the apartment and all its spaces. I have two couches. One has been in my family for almost 100 years, and the other opens into a queen-sized futon bed where friends and family stay when they visit.

The room that serves as a place to eat and entertain – the living and dining room – is long and narrow. I had to figure out where these two 80-inch-long sofas would go.

In addition to the twin bed I rested on for 24 of the last 40 months, the storage unit holds another twin, a double and a queen. The queen bed is newer and softer and has better linens; the double is smaller by four inches in the width and five in the length and will need new sheets. I had to make a decision about that, as well.

By the time I finished measuring the two big rooms, and the kitchen, bathroom and closets, I was in the apartment long enough to notice a smell. Nothing offensive, but it was a remnant of the person who lived there before me, and I wanted to clear the air. I already opened the windows; now I went home and grabbed a giant bag of Cedarific kitty litter, my favorite room deodorizer and brought it back to the apartment.

By the time I spread the fine smelling wood shavings across the wall-to-wall carpeting, my pizza was warm. I sat on a window ledge and looked at the space, still trying to figure out where to put which couch.

Then it struck me. I had the measurements, and now I had a surface on which to sketch my options in full scale – the dry erase surface of cedar litter spread evenly across the floor.

I started in the bedroom, tracing out the dimensions, first of the full-size bed and then the queen. It was easy to see how much those few inches mattered in a 9 by 12-foot bedroom, especially if I wanted to put the monster of a recliner in there, too, as a place to read myself to sleep without bending my back out of shape, and maybe to sleep the night when this 68-year-old body needs that particular kind of support.

That decision made, I returned to the great room, the refectory, the parlor, what have you.

Aside from the challenge of the couches, I needed a place to eat. The kitchen, while more of a kitchen that the hotplate, toaster oven and sink I have here, is small. It’s got plenty of room for kitchen-y things like dishes and cookware and food, but no place to sit at all.

If I put the futon sofa on the other side of the pass through from the kitchen, it wouldn’t hog the room. My grandmother’s couch could go at a right angle to it, along one of the two long facing walls. That would leave one corner near the windows for Melaphafon’s tower and about 12 feet of wall for a dining table.

I drew all this in the kitty litter, using a spoon handle as a scribe.

I wanted my table to seat at least four people, and more if possible. I wanted it to be round because I didn’t want sharp corners to break up the unity of the space and because cards and other games are better at a round table, unless it’s bridge or pinochle or one of those partner games. But I didn’t want even a round table to obtrude into the center of the room, where I might do yoga or dance or just feel space around me.

There was, in my mind, a gate-leg or drop leaf table, narrow when closed and round when open. I didn’t see it online at Ikea, Wayfair, Ebay or anywhere. What I did see online was usually expensive for my budget and often poorly made.

A friend told me of a table that was free by the side of the road and on the way to see it, I passed the ReStore.

This move was working in my life for more than a year, more than two years, more than that. The closer it gets, the more intimidated I am by the amount I don’t know about what it is I want. So it felt somewhat liberating to find, beyond the birthing chair and through the rooms of other furniture, a gate leg table that surpassed my imagining. Solid wood, less than a foot across when closed, more than four feet wide with the sides up and with two leaves for the big occasions.

It means a lot to me, this ability to invite a crowd of friends and family to share a meal in my own home. The rest of the questions – the ones about the future – can wait.

Shlomit Auciello is a writer, photographer, and human ecologist who has lived in Midcoast Maine since 1988. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print, on and off since 1992, and is published here on a weekly basis.