Friday, April 05, 2013

Sofas, So Far - Part II

At the conclusion of yesterday's post, I had just moved to Baton Rouge, where I lived alone, an official "empty nester." The remaining pieces of the conversation-pit-style furniture that had been in the living room of our family home were now in the living room of my first-ever apartment. To continue:

The sofa sat beneath the front windows and the love seat against the opposite wall. The extra-large hassock had been converted to a coffee table by the addition of a heavy glass square on top of it. In that location the sofa knew me as a woman who was absorbed in her career but wanted almost desperately to meet "Mr. Right" and start a life with him. It didn't happen. The best person to come into my life while I lived in that apartment was my beautiful granddaughter, Kalyn, a happy baby whose personality sparkled from her earliest days.

Baby Kalyn, balanced on disarranged sofa cushions.

I did meet Mr. Almost-But-Not-Quite-Right while I lived in that apartment, and eventually my furniture and I moved to share a house with him. We knew from the beginning that the arrangement wouldn't last, because he had his heart set on moving someplace tropical and living near the water, and I had my heart set on not doing that.

My daughter Kelli, leaning against my sofa while
visiting in the house I shared with a significant other.

The relationship and the living arrangement were good while they lasted. Even if nothing else came out of it, the sharing of expenses enabled me to save enough money to replace the beat-up car I'd inherited from my older daughter when she moved to New York. It had been wrecked a few times. The air conditioner didn't work, and the headliner came unglued and hung down to rest on my head as I drove.

One more interesting tidbit: My boyfriend's hobby was magic, specifically illusions. If that sofa could talk, it could tell plenty of secrets about how magic tricks are done. I promised I'd never tell, but the sofa never made such a promise.

Just over three years after I moved in, I moved out again to a different apartment in the same complex where I'd lived before. I was happy the first time I lived there and happier by far the second time around. I was steadily gaining confidence in my own ability to handle whatever challenges life threw my way. Romantic inclinations waned, replaced by job interests and the joy I found in being a grandmother. The sofa, now in its fourth home, saw me travel as often as three times a month to Houston, where the home office of my employer was located. It heard plenty of laughter, too: my own and that of visiting grandchildren, as we spread a plastic tablecloth on the floor in front of it and made countless Play-Doh masterpieces. The sofa, love seat, hassock, and I stayed together in that apartment for nine years.

My daughter Kelli (center) and grandkids, Kalyn and Koby,
in my second Baton Rouge apartment.

Early in 1997, Kelli (who was divorced by then) and I bought property together: two houses, one behind the other with a carport in between, all covered by one roof. It's where I still live today. The three remaining pieces of the conversation-pit group moved here with me to this 1970s-built home and lasted for three more years. That roomful of furniture we had purchased for $295 in 1978 held together for 22 years. It might have lasted even longer, but Kadi and Butch (see them in the sidebar) joined our family during our first 14 months here, and they were hard on the sofa fabric.

This is how my living room looked when I first moved into my present home.

In the fall of 1999, my daughter Kim moved back here from New York and lived with me for a while. My mother passed away at the end of that year. When my siblings and I discussed what to do with Mother's household furnishings, it quickly became clear that none of us wanted her sofa. Kim, upon learning that, asked if she could have it. She'd never seen it, but she knew she'd be moving into her own place soon and figured having any kind of sofa would reduce move-in expenses. Since my old living-room suite was looking very shabby, I agreed to have it hauled off and to replace it temporarily with Mother's taupe sofa, matching love seat, and burgundy, faux-leather recliner. Mother loved shades of pink, but these are not my colors.

The sofa and chair "we" (Kim and I) inherited
 are shown here in Mother's home. It looked nice there, 
but it wasn't even close to the earth tones I love.

I couldn't find any photos of Mother's furniture after it was moved into my home. I can tell you that Kim changed her mind about wanting it the instant she saw it, and that I was stuck with it for several years. I slipcovered it once, but the slipcover wouldn't stay in place with the dogs jumping on it. I think this sofa might have felt unappreciated in my house. Mother had taken good care of it; I, on the other hand, watched the calendar pages flip slowly and waited for it to die.

Early in 2005 we discovered that Butch had primary glaucoma that would ultimately leave him blind. He needed surgery before the condition grew so severe that medication couldn't control the associated pain. The surgery, unfortunately, would render him blind instantly, so Kim and I began to prepare for that eventuality. Part of the advice we read stated that rearranging furniture was extremely disorienting for a blind dog. We began to make permanent changes while Butch could still see them so he could remember where everything was after his sight was gone.

That's when my home became all about the dogs. They were the heart of it, the heart of me. I knew I wanted leather sofas (easy to wipe the hair off) and began shopping for them while work was in progress on redoing all my floors. I quickly found the sofas I wanted but couldn't afford them. The search continued until one day that store had a special sale, offering a deep discount on every sofa in stock with the trade-in of a used sofa or love seat. Bingo! I traded in Mother's sofa and love seat and bought the two leather sofas I'd been admiring. A neighbor was excited to get the worn burgundy recliner, which she promptly reupholstered in a lovely, soft fabric. It lived with her family for another 12 years.

I wrote above that my home is "all about the dogs."
These woodsy colors, though, are all about me.
They make everything feel peaceful and calm--just the way I like it.

We finished the flooring, painting, and furniture procurement in the summer of 2005, and Butch had his surgery that August, a few short weeks before Hurricane Katrina made landfall an hour south of here. Butch adapted to his sightlessness beautifully and had no qualms about leaping blindly on and off the new leather sofas. He and Kadi spent many comfortable hours there.

 Kadi (left) and Butch

Kadi and Butch are both gone now, leaving room on the sofas for the next generation of canine family members:

Gimpy (left) and Levi

I think these sofas will last for a while, and I think they'd tell you, if they could, that this is a happy, comfortable place to live. They'd tell you there's a lot of love in this old house, and the lady who picked out these cinnamon-hued sofas is still strong and healthy enough to pull one of them away from the wall and retrieve a tennis ball that's rolled behind it. The sofas aren't old enough to know it, but I can tell you something else about that lady: She's a lot older, wiser, and more comfortable with herself than she was when she chose that bright-orange, crushed-velvet, freeform sofa 40 years ago.

That's the way life's supposed to change us, right? 


  1. This has been a fascinating journey through your life! I take inspiration from your strength.

  2. Beautifully written, Mom. I lived it with you and I still wanted more of the story. LOL!

  3. Holly, thank you. I don't think of myself as being strong, but, by golly, I'm resilient!

    Kim, thank you, too. You'll have to help me create some more real-life experiences to write about.

  4. These were great posts, Linda. I really didn't want it to end! I guess you wouldn't be surprised if I told you that I have a modest collection of elephants. I just LOVE them. But I only want the ones with their trunks UP (good luck) I also collect Buddhas.

  5. Thanks, Val, for the comment as well as for the inspiration.


Your comments might be the very best thing about blogging. I love it when you care enough to share your thoughts here, so go ahead and say what's on your mind.