It was February when I bought the couch. In the showroom, I had imagined parties at my house, the couch wrapped in an "ethnic blue" upholstery, holding guests firmly and elegantly -- the guests, friends who drank dirty martinis while wearing high heels. I have not a single friend who does those activities simultaneously, but the couch would make it so.
I'm notorious for ignoring the passage of time, avoiding the inevitable sadness until everyone else is done grieving. The couch I was replacing that February morning had lost its spring. I'd refused to admit to the couch's decline -- its compressed cushions and tattered skirted fringe. I only saw the couch in its youth, bought from a large lot store, a place that recovered furniture after floods and fires, a place now closed because of better sprinkler systems and advances in radar.
The couch had a scent of roach spray that never went away. Covered in soft synthetic burgundy velvet, I thought it was gorgeous. I slept on it for the first years we had it. I recovered from a surgery on it. After a time, I didn't sleep on it anymore; I slept in my own bed. I was ready to sleep alone in a bed, a change I'd been unable to accept until I was OK enough. Divorce no longer fresh. For years, I woke weekend after weekend to my son's friend stretched across the burgundy velvet, their limbs hanging off the sides, our family dog sprawled beside snoring boys.
Later, the couch was home to my daughter and her friends, giggling teenaged girls picking at their crumbling snacks, more slipping between the cushions than ever eaten.
So much living had happened on the couch. It didn't occur to me that it would ever be replaced for the same reasons I'd never consider replacing our dog because she's gotten shabby and old; she's part of the family. Really, until my sister told me, I had not noticed the couch was no longer a young thing. My sister said since my kids were young adults now it was time to make a grown up house.
The new couch arrived two weeks ago. Now, everything around it seems worn out instead of loved and storied. What's more, when I open the door and see the new couch, there are no friends in heels sipping martinis. Instead, our dog, who was officially banned from the new couch, stares guiltily from a spot dead center on one of the ethnic blue cushions.
When I'm regretting the price of the new couch and missing the old one, I start to think it's time for the couch with "ethnic blue upholstery" to begin spicing up our lives -- to pay its way or at the very least radiate a kind of cultural sexiness heretofore missing in our home. Instead, it highlights the decay of a decade of living in the same place. I've stared disapprovingly at the thing. It has the vacant perfection of a misplaced beauty queen crashing the book group of a bunch of fifty-year-old women, not the look I'd been hoping for.
At the same time, I'm old enough now to find a shred of patience born of perspective. Perhaps, it takes furniture time to adapt, find its role in our lives and make its mark on the decades. Maybe it's unfair to expect a sexy tango from the new couch. Maybe a tentative and tender dance, like that first junior high love, maybe that's more of the pacing, the rhythm.