The Couch

I am giving this couch to a young friend who is moving to Georgia. It is time. Just as I gave my big stack of books on herbalism two weekends ago to another young friend as she moves to Western MA to begin an internship on a farm, this just felt right.

This couch means a lot to me. It was the first grown-up piece of furniture I bought when I was starting out in ministry. I purchased it in Philadelphia in 1999 for $700, which was a huge amount of money for me (I mean, it still is, but it was REALLY huge back then). I had carefully saved all my wedding and funeral fees for two years so I could afford it, and I bought it along with a dining room table and chairs and coffee table and side table that I still have. All those pieces are pine and made in Mexico, and I still love them.

I chose this couch because it had a pull-out bed and because the color was the same as the fur of the two dogs I loved best in my life: my childhood dog, Pippin, and my sister’s dog, Gordon. Pippin was a golden retriever and Gordon was a sort of smooth, orange guy (probably part Vizla) whom we jokingly referred to as “Gordon retriever.” Both good dogs are gone now and I will always miss them.

This couch has moved several times. The first move it made was to my four-story walk-up in Ellicott City. Then it moved to a condo in Columbia, MD where it would not fit through the door and eventually had to be hoisted up through a porch. It still bears scars from that move, where I stood hand over my mouth watching the movers try to cram it sideways through the door.

It then came with me to my current home at the parsonage here, where it continued to provide a comfortable resting place not only for my tired bod, but for many friends and parishioners. My cat, Ermengarde, has spent thousands of hours lounging on its armrests, and she has also comforted distraught or confused people who came to me for counseling and with whom I shared tea and sympathy while sitting on this couch.

When we adopted Maxfield four years ago, he immediately made the couch his very own, smashing down the cushions with the weight of his beagly body and also constantly re-arranging throw pillows to create cozy forts. Many times after a long day I would return home to find that he had dragged all of the pillows in the house onto his couch and arranged them around him, earning himself the nickname of “Sultan of the Cushions.”

I have smooched various boyfriends on that couch, hosted god-knows-how-many overnight guests on it, huddled on it while sick and wrapped in a warm blankie, and parked myself on it with piles of books during study days and weeks. Guests have congregated on it during holidays and spilled cocktails and appetizers on it, and posed for photos on it.

Thank you, Couch, for the memories. As you depart for Georgia and your new life, I hope you will take with you some of the good and loving energy from this house with you. Everything has a spirit. We send you on with your good spirit to bless the new home of a dear friend. Also some dog and cat hairs that no matter how hard we vacuum, will never come out.

4 Replies to “The Couch”

  1. What a lovely and moving tribute to the important ways that favorite household furnishings, i.e. a well-loved and well-used couch in this case, become part of us and help ground us through the years as we celebrate life’s joys and and grieve life’s sorrows.

  2. I really, really, really love this piece. Your writing is always beautiful and full of wonder, but I love it best when directed at seemingly ordinary things. While the couch you lovingly describe isn’t mine, it could be. Mine would tell similar stories. I may sound overly dramatic here, but I am becoming convinced that listening to the stories of the ordinary objects in our midst, taking note of the way hum-drum becomes sacred, might just save us from ourselves. Bravo. [Well, THANK YOU so much! Love back atchya! – PB]

  3. I recently got rid of three couches: I’d had them for ten years. They were really great for napping on. The new couches look much better and don’t have bricks propping them up instead of legs, but they are inferior napping couches. *nodnod*

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