Looks like a common, ordinary couch, doesn’t it? In fact, maybe a little less than ordinary. If our couch were a person, you’d probably call it down-on-its-luck, down and out, underprivileged. It has seen better days.
But there’s more to our couch than meets the eye. With our intrepid children always at the helm, it has sailed on the high seas, thundered down railroad tracks loaded with dangerous cargo, and carried busloads of happy schoolchildren safely home. It has raced in Nascar, the Indianapolis 500, and in rallies down steep mountain roads. Its cushions have been transformed into forts to protect our home from the forces of evil and have become nests for tired little baby birds and homes for faithful Teddy Bears. Our couch has flown in the clouds as an airliner and through the starry night as a magic carpet. This couch has been places.
If you looked through our family photographs, you’d notice that this couch shows up in a lot of them. It’s where my husband and I loved to read and where we’d curl up with our children to nurture their love of reading. It’s where beloved friends and family sat when they visited, including many who have now passed away. It’s also the scene of a bit of cherished family lore involving a eight-inch long skink that crawled up my arm while we were watching a movie. Legend has it that I leapt, in a single bound, over the back of the couch.
I bought it, when my now college-age children were babies, at a yard sale in an upscale North Raleigh neighborhood. The lady of the house saw me looking longingly at it and came over.
“You know, that couch cost me $1800.00. And it has stayed in my living room and never, ever been touched by my children.”
I smiled at her and thought, That’s gonna change real soon.
And it did. My children have touched just about every square inch of that couch at one time or another. And they have traveled many, many miles on it in the oceans, roads, and skies of their infinite imaginations.
I have a confession to make: I was thinking of throwing it out, of sending it to the Great Living Room in the Sky. (It’s too shabby to give to Goodwill.) So, why was I thinking of saying goodbye to such a faithful old friend? Well, for one thing, when company comes, I have to try to steer them to other seats. Because once you sit down, you sink to such depths that you wonder if you’ll ever be able to rise again. It’s a little embarrassing. And for another, it just looks so bedraggled. Tom has rebuilt it twice, but it is getting beyond help.
But when I told my son Benjamin, he was beside himself. “I love that couch. You can’t throw it away. I love that more than anything we own.”
I was incredulous. “More than the pie safe? More than the china cabinet?” Both treasured family heirlooms.
“Yes, more than those. Please don’t get rid of it!”
So, thanks to Benjamin, our couch is here to stay. At least until he gets out of college. Then, it will sit in his very first apartment. He’ll curl up on it, in his favorite corner spot, where it sags just right for nesting. I can see him there now, reading, playing guitar, or dozing. Dozing—as he dreams of the days when couches could fly through starry skies, could hurtle down curvy mountain roads, and could take you anywhere you dreamed of going.