(Thanks to Alan for the idea)
I’ve always had pretty nice homes. Never fancy or in the most exclusive neighborhoods, but I think most people who have visited my places would agree that they’ve been clean, well designed, and tastefully put together. I can honestly say that none of my college apartments even looked like college apartments. Part of that is occupational hazard, part of it is that I am a great bargain hunter, and part of it is that, when I must, I can bring together a bunch of discongruous cheap junk and make it look like it belongs together.
The truth is, I don’t have much of what any “stuff snob” would consider “good stuff”. No fine antiques. No celebrated original artworks. I buy what I like, what I can afford, and what I need, and make it work. There are maybe a half dozen things in my house that I really LIKE. These are the things that I would take with me even if I’d won the lottery and were moving into a mansion full of new stuff. (ignoring the obvious family photos, books, and sentimental trinkets) There’s the chair from my great grandparents house, it’s wooden arms and legs wearing the scars of 60 years of use. There is a pair of prints by Walter Valentini, one the first “adult” things I remember buying, the other a gift from a dear friend that I had reframed to match my original one. And then, there is my sofa. It might have to be tucked into the sitting area of a guest room in that mansion, but I’d take it with me.
It’s the first piece of furniture I ever bought. I ordered it custom built to my specifications and paid for it little by little over my first summer in college. Who knows how many JC Penny credit cards, Caller ID packages, or life insurance benefits I peddled as a telemarketer that summer to pay for it? I spent more on it than I probably should have, but it had a sleeper in it, and I reasoned (correctly) that it would serve a wonderful dual purpose in my first studio apartment as both sofa and bed.
The first day I had it, my family came to my wee college apartment to help get me settled in. Dad, stepmom, littlest brother (who was 5 or 6 at the time), and stepmoms best friend. It only took a few hours to whip the small space into shape, but as stepmom’s friend stood on the back of the couch to hang a picture, littlest brother chided her “Rita! We don’t stand on furniture!” Good lookin’ out for my sofa.
That first year, I was rather particular with the sofa. The fabric was a light tan, and while it had been treated, I feared stains. If anyone ate on it, I covered it with a big ole comforter. I was visibly nervous if anyone had a drink on it. And so you can imagine my horror when a friend and her new boyfriend came for a visit, and after coming back to my place from a big BBQ lunch, he plopped his ass on my sofa only to get up and realize he had sat in BBQ sauce at the restaurant.
We wiped it up. But it didn’t come off. Only later, using a special conconction of cleaners and my friend’s toothbrush, did I get the sauce out.
But that was the first of many homes that sofa had. As I count, it has lived in four college apartments counting that first one. Five apartments once I started my career, one house, and now one condo. Plus two stints in storage, once at my grandmother’s and once in the store room of a place I worked part time. That’s a lot of moving, folks. But it has held up well. It needs a little stuffing, the fabric is showing it’s age, and most telling of it’s age is that the back is bleached almost white–the victim of UV damage as it sat for two years in front of a huge window at my last apartment.
So once I moved into my new place, I started to look for it’s replacement. Most everything I saw that wasn’t completely out of my price range looked an awful lot like my old one. So I made a couple of calls to see what it would cost to just reupholster it, and it was half the price of buying a new one. So now I get to keep my tattered old couch, and I’m glad. It’s a good piece. Plain, classic lines that work with whatever pillows I’ve thrown on it over the years. And it’s full of memories…the ones I already mentioned and a lot more. I can’t count how many people have crashed on it over the years. How many bottles of wine have been enjoyed on it, how many movies have been watched.
So, it’s getting some new life breathed into it. Maybe I’ll get fifteen more years of memories out of it.