Writing Desks

And what they’ve taught me about love

Olivia Semple
2 min readJul 1, 2020


Years ago I stayed in a relationship for far too long. The kind where you make yourself smaller continuously, until your needs don’t matter anymore. For a long time I wanted to get a writing desk, and it was always a problem. It didn’t “fit in” anywhere in his beautifully decorated apartment. So, I propped a laptop up on a pillow and convinced myself it was no big deal.

When I moved out, the first piece of furniture I bought after a mattress to sleep on was a writing desk. Oh, I loved that thing. It was recycled from an Indian sewing machine. I wrote hundreds of thousands of words on it. It was so much more than just a desk! It was a symbol of freedom and self-love. Every time I sat at it I remembered that I have needs, and that I can take care of them myself. That I’m worth taking care of.

3 years ago I moved out of that apartment, sold the desk, and became a gypsy writer. I’ve made train tables and upside-down buckets my desks. I’ve learned that I can be flexible in how I satiate my needs, but that I can’t ignore them ever again.

When I moved to Puerto Escondido in January it was because I felt like I could write here. I had a little writing station in my apartment, part of a cheap plastic shelving unit, and I worked. I fell in love with my little town, and then with a very big human, who has never once made me feel like I have to make myself smaller.

We built a treehouse cabaña and moved in together. I found a wobbly table to write on and stuck it in a corner, happiest I have been in a long time. A few months ago this big human asked if I wanted him to make me a desk, and I said no. He’d already worked so hard, and there’s so much other stuff to do here, always. This wobbly table is fine, I said.

He kept asking. I kept saying no.

This morning he just said “I made you a desk, go upstairs and see it.” And I sat right here and cried like a dummy.

Why? Because it’s one thing to learn that it’s okay to have needs, and to honor them. But learning to allow someone else to honor MY needs? To see me, and to take care of me better than I do at times? That’s a new level of growth for this not-so-small-anymore woman.



Olivia Semple

Gypsy lady, chocolate fiend. Forever dizzy at Kierkegaard's abyss. I should be editing my novel but I’m procrastinating here instead.