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The Tao of a Couch

By Erika Hoffman

That couch became the background for Christmas photos, dozens of birthday parties, bridge-playing get-togethers, garden club gatherings and countless occasions through a score of years

Any decorator worth her myriad of swatches would advise reupholstering, at a minimum – slipcovers, but most likely the dump.

In 1979, that divan cost $500.00. A present from my mom to us for our newly bought first home; it charmed me with its flowery pattern over a black background. Oriental and feminine, the sofa was the centerpiece of my parlor. More than merely proud of its elegance, I delighted in it.

That couch became the background for Christmas photos, dozens of birthday parties, bridge-playing get-togethers, garden club gatherings and countless occasions through a score of years. Images of it, with all four kids decked out in Sunday finery before christenings; or them in Easter hats or adult-like blazers posing behind it; or their bodies unrecognizable in Halloween costumes jumping on it– adorn my bookshelves and bureaus. Memories of 13 pups in our laps as my hubby and I – with eye drops of sustenance, supplementing our Mama dog’s nursing – gurgle to the surface whenever I spy that sofa. Perfectly I recall sitting there feeding those suckling mouths so many years ago.

The couch moved to a larger home as our family grew and aged. Finally, the tattered couch came to rest in our dream house, built after two of our four kids had already moved on and out.

No longer did it occupy the spotlight in the living room. Nor was it even pigeon-holed into a corner of our dimly lit den, not even a place among the somewhat shabby décor of a porch did it merit. Its rattiness relegated it to the out-of-sight upstairs.

Like us, it aged. Our sofa squats in our bedroom stationed in front of technologically challenging black boxes. My longtime hubby and I watch our favorite programs late at night – just the two of us, nestled on our couch, the one given us as newlyweds. We sink into threadbare cushions, rest our elbows on frayed armrests, and lean our heads on darkened ovals. Encompassed by recollections, wrapped in their glow, savoring the past, loving the present, hopeful for the future, we relax on our treasured, dated, ragged sofa opposite a modern, savvy, flat-screened TV. It is our niche, our preferred seat, our sanctuary, our peace. Reminiscences, personalities, and life itself bubble up from its dilapidated pillows and over-sprung springs.

A Celebrex commercial lights up the screen and the commercial’s announcer says it’s simple physics: “A body at rest stays at rest; a body in motion stays in motion.” My husband sprawled on the sofa cuts his eyes over at me.

“Not around here! A body at rest gets a job to do!” my reclining partner retorts.

“Is that right?” I banter back.

“You had me doing so many chores today my pants were trying to fall off.”

I give his hefty frame the once-over.  “Wear a belt,” I answer with a smile.

He laughs.Our program recommences, and we sink down again into our pleasant couch potato duet on our familiar perch.

The peace of mind our attic-worthy divan exudes no new piece of poshness can replace. A place of Tao may not be an exotic venue or a geographical location, at all. Fondly remembered furniture that served as refuge, comfort, and a locale for togetherness becomes imbued with its own Tao over time. When my husband and I settle into our sofa of four decades of conjugal life and strife, we feel embraced, soothed by our coupledom, and sated with the feeling of home and hearth. Even a tattered, Salvation Army reject, worn-out three-seater is, as a commercial boasts, PRICELESS!

It’s my own Velveteen rabbit.

Comments

13 responses to “The Tao of a Couch

  1. It is amazing the amount of history and family memories that can be stored in a piece of furniture. I am not sure future generations will have this, because they leave everything beside the curb. I guess they have Instagram?

  2. When I think of all the couches I have loved and lost, I smile that you are still cozy in the comfort of yours!

  3. You make me wish I had kept one that my mother gave me and my husband talked me into giving away, years ago. You brought back memories. Thanks!

  4. Truly priceless! I love stories like this. Makes me look at my old used furniture in a very different way. We, too, keep the old stuff around. It is definitely not interior decorating worthy, but very full of fun family memories. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Great story! I treasure all my old family pieces. While none are quiet as worn as Erika’s couch, they are equally as loved. Thanks for another great story!

  6. Furniture that comes with a story is what makes antique shops so wonderful. Even furniture that doesn’t make it to the antique stage carry our stories and our spirit. Thanks for this story..

  7. Amazing how a piece of furniture can connect us with our history! A hand carved cabinet that has traveled the world with my family, now sits in my home. I look at it and I remember . . . Thanks for your heartwarming story.

  8. Well-loved pieces, like well-loved people, become the repositories for our memories. Hooray for comfy homes and relationships! Love this, Erika.

  9. That’s why I can’t get rid of a lot of my stuff! Everything is full of memories, just like Erika’s sofa! Thank you again for inspiring lovely thoughts.

  10. Loved this piece. Made me glance around my bedroom at the “oldies” contained there. Wouldn’t trade my old stuff for anything. Glad I’m in such good company.

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