A couple of years ago, I received a package that we had ordered. I always separate out recyclables from packing supplies, and make certain that things like cardboard boxes and random papers avoid the trash bin. That particular package had arrived in a cardboard box with a web address printed on it that allowed you to track a re-used cardboard box. The idea was that you would be able to see all of the extended life it received through re-use, and thus how many new boxes did not need to be made. A fun concept, I thought.
Sometimes, I wish that I could watch items that are important to our lives as they progress through their existence. There are things, for example, that weave in and out of our lists of possessions that manage to carve out nostalgic slices of our memories, but that we don’t hold on to when we downsize for whatever reason.
My parents had this sofa and chair when I was a child. They had very likely purchased it when they were first married. Imagine everything that was the 70’s, and you would find it encompassed in this sofa and chair. I don’t know this for certain, but I sort of imagine that they were my parents’ “starter furniture.” A few years later, of course, better furniture was purchased, but the sofa and chair simply migrated to a different room…a “spare room,” as it was called, that switched identities on a regular basis. That sofa and chair, as I recall, stayed with that room through its incarnation as a study just after it had given up its role as a guest room.
I went to college…the furniture was still around. It was covered and altered in appearance, but still there. Soon, the sofa wasn’t so comfortable any longer, but I slept on it once while visiting.
When Karen and I met during grad school and announced our wedding, we began searching for an apartment. Until that point, my bachelor apartments had always been furnished. Now, for the first time, I was looking at the prospect of furnishing an apartment while we were both poor grad students. My parents graciously offered to supply a sofa and chair for our living room. Guess which ones they brought?
Last year, as we were packing our apartment for the move to New England, we were deciding what to sell instead of move. Downsizing, as I’ve said, is a very liberating experience. We, too, had acquired another sofa since we had received the gift of that starter furniture, and now, we decided, the starter furniture had to move on.
That sofa and chair had witnessed my childhood, and witnessed the early years of our marriage, but now had to move on to new adventures.
They didn’t stay together. The chair went to a grad student’s apartment because she had eclectic tastes in furniture. The sofa was a perfect fit for an admissions counselor’s office at a local college. They went their separate ways. Sort of sad, actually, but their adventures are continuing.
Sometimes, I wish that I could look in on them and see how they’re faring.
Silly, I know, and I’m not nearly that sentimentally attached to our furniture, don’t get me wrong. I just think that it would be interesting to personify various things…that small table, or decoration on the wall, or a bedside stand…something that has come through our lives on its way elsewhere…and see what adventures they see, hear what stories they could tell.