The Autobiography of a Couch

Lately I’ve been in this mood.  I’m not sure, actually, if I should be calling it a mood, which would imply that it’s something short, temporary, on its way through, like storm clouds or birthday parties or fingerless carnival ride operators.  I find myself hoping that it’s not a mood because it feels like something more important, deserving of some type of status that is less than fleeting.  But it settled on me like a mood, and it’s hanging around in that weird and wavy way, so for now that’s what I will call it.

I was thinking the other day that I’ve lost a lot of books by loaning them to people who lose them, or forget to pack them when they move, or just sort of dissolve out of my life until it would be kind of weird for me to call them up on a Thursday afternoon and ask if they know where they put that copy of The Virgin Suicides.  It’s something that’s occurred to me before, because there have been times when I’ve been proud of my bookshelf, and annoyed at the fact that something is missing from it.  So when this short list of loaned and lost books came up in my memory the other day, I surprised myself by not really giving a shit.  Instead, my next thought was how can I get rid of the rest of these???

This mood makes me want to sell all of my things, and all of the things I’ve had to buy to hold my things up off of the floor.  I feel the need to live as simply as possible.  I feel the need to be lighter, to be able to leave easily.  I often have the feeling that there is nothing for me here, in this city, that this is definitely not where I’m supposed to be.  But now it’s stronger than ever, and I just have to find out where the fuck I am supposed to be.  I need to do everything I can to avoid taking root in what I know to be the wrong place.

I know that this is what old people do before they die, and that creeps me out a little.

So, I walked around my apartment and mentally marked everything to sell.  I got to my couch and realized for the millionth time that it needs to be thrown away, that only an idiot would pay money for it.

When I was sixteen, I got it into my head that I wanted to redecorate my room.  I put wall paper on the ceiling, painted furniture, re-arranged my Tori Amos posters, and bought a futon.  It was this deluxe model with an innerspring mattress and a blue cover that matched my ceiling cloud wallpaper.  I paid $300 for the futon and the frame, and my boyfriend and I drove out to pick it up and pay the guy at the warehouse, who wouldn’t accept my check.  I gave him cash and left without a receipt, and my mom freaked out when she heard because she said I could “get screwed over.”

I put it together.  I slept on it quite comfortably all through high school.  I covered it with pillows to lean against so I could sit up and stay awake for each instalment of Anna Karenina on Masterpiece Theater at 3am, every morning, for a week.  I read all seven Harry Potter books on it.  It’s where my sister and I cuddled to watch The Last Unicorn one more time before I moved to the city.

I took it apart.  I put it in a truck and took it out of a truck and put it together again.  It has been disassembled and reassembled at least five different times, losing more little pieces every time.  At least three boys have “helped” me reassemble my couch from scratch, and each time I have let them give it their best shot before asking them to stand the fuck back while I build it from memory, thank you very much.  It has been nicked with screwdrivers and spattered with nail polish and all of the parts have been dropped separately.  I have made out with a few different boys on it in the last eleven years, and slept with a couple of them on it.  (If you have enjoyed sitting on my couch and think that’s gross, well, I don’t ask you what you do on YOUR couch, Princess.  If you have enjoyed me on my couch and thought it was a good time, well, you’re right on the money.)

Travelers have come from Seattle, the Quad Cities, St. Louis, New York, and various parts of Southern Illinois to sleep on my couch.  It has been voted Most Comfortable by all (with the exception of Seattle, quite possibly…due to the couch being quite literally on its last legs by then…).

At least two people I do not like have sat on my couch.  I did not like it.

At least one artsy, blurry, black-and-white photo shoot took place on my couch.

One fateful Laundry Day, I accidently left a giant bottle of laundry detergent lying on my couch, with the cap only half on.  The result was a big puddle of bright blue laundry detergent, which soaked through the cover and onto the black cushion underneath.  My best friend was visiting and when he saw what I’d done, he exclaimed my name really loud, and like he was sorely disappointed in me…like a father would be disappointed in you if you drove the car into a ditch or got a dumb pink heart tattooed onto your ass cheek.  And I didn’t think his reaction was weird at the time, because I felt bad for doing it to my couch, and for proving myself once again to be completely absentminded about things like lids and leaky fluids and a surrounding world of thirsty fabrics.  (Also, my best friend has always had a special place in his heart for furniture and rugs and wall art and lamps, so to commit a crime against a futon was to commit a crime against someone in his family.)

The detergent left a large, soapy, Mountain Breeze scented stain, and he would look for it every time he visited and slept on the couch.

I have taken countless naps on the couch.  I have watched endless epic television on the couch, and endless crappy television.  I slept on it when I was mad at my boyfriend or when I was just too lazy and sleepy to get up and go to bed.  I have stayed up late on the couch, and gotten up early on the couch.  I have sat on the couch while thinking about how great the couch is.

Last fall, the couch uttered a plaintive creak beneath me, more than once, as I innocently curled up on it.  I ignored it for as long as possible, but it’s hard to ignore your couch when it crashes to the floor in pieces under you.  I tried to fit the parts back together.  I got new screws that looked a lot like what I remembered about the original ones.  I used duct tape, Superglue, nails, stacks of crappy books, and rope…and still the whole thing would clatter to the floor, creating a fluffy mattress slide that would just roll me down onto the rug, gently, but firmly, as if the couch was telling me to move on.  Not one to let go of something I love without a bitter fight, I borrowed a power drill and bought a bunch of bracket sets at the hardware store, and though the parts of the couch that were meant to fit together do not even touch, meaning that the only thing holding the couch up is little skinny brass bits, the damn thing has held on and allowed me to enjoy it for just a little longer.

But in September, it will have to go.  And I will miss it, but I will be happy to have one less heavy thing in my life, and I will not buy anything to replace it.

At work on Wednesday night, I looked down at a to-do list someone had left on the desk.  All of the to-do’s were crossed out, so I’m pretty sure that the dog got food and copies of keys were made for the new apartment, but the last one was left un-crossed, and it said, in all caps, “SELL COUCH!”

It is quite possible that, out of all the stuff I own, this couch will be the one thing I miss.

1 Comment

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One response to “The Autobiography of a Couch

  1. Share

    I too currently feel like getting rid of it all… but I will not be sad to see my Airman’s Attic couch go away.
    Fabulous writing.
    Thanks!

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