Mark’s Remarks | Couch

Michelle and I didn’t buy our first piece of furniture until we were expecting Riley. Although we lived in a tiny little house, we had the luxury of three small bedrooms. We used the third little room as a “family” room, which was hardly large enough for two arm chairs and a little television.

But, we thought we were pretty lucky and maybe a bit fancy.

Having three bedrooms meant we could have an extra room for guests. So, when we knew one of those rooms would become the baby’s room, we decided to purchase a new couch with a hide-away bed.

Our couch at the time had been recovered and I had it during my bachelor days. We were able to sell the old couch and add that money to the new couch. When we figured out we could afford a new couch, we set about shopping with excitement.

We finally settled on a sort of sage green, velvety looking couch with fancy looking pillows. I remember the day it was delivered. We were almost afraid to sit on it.  Never had we spent so much money. Plus, in our few years of marriage, we had never owned something brand new.

Michelle’s grandmother, a fellow jokester and sweet lady, often came to visit us in those days. She wanted to see our new couch, so we took her over to see it. She complimented the couch and told us what a good choice we’d made. “Someday, I may let you sit on it,” I told her.  We all laughed at that. But I think I may have been a little serious.

For a long time, the couch was the centerpiece of our living room.  We were careful with it. We were happy when guests came, proud to roll out our new luxury, hide away bed. It’s funny we never thought about it being uncomfortable until we actually tried sleeping on it ourselves. How could something that made us so proud be so darned uncomfortable?

When we moved to a different house and as our family grew, the couch started to show some wear. Like many things in our country today, the couch must have been put together pretty fast. Perhaps poor workmanship was in the mix. Although it looked nice, the “bones” of the couch weren’t that great. Soon, the pillows became squashed and lumpy.

Michelle and I had both come from homes where furniture was meant to last, so we hauled the couch cushions over to the “foam factory” in the city and had them restuffed. For a while, sitting on the cushions was like plopping down on a concrete slab. Eventually, our indentions made things much more comfortable. The couch was like new! I’d recommend getting cushions “refoamed” to anyone. They are still holding up great after many years.

As our family grew even more, we decided we might need a new living room suite.  Why do people do that? We had a perfectly good couch. Yet as we sat in our living room of discontent, we dreamed of something better and more comfortable, even though that particular couch was plenty comfortable too.

Plus,  on our way to buy the new stuff (this time a new couch with chair and footstool to match) we reasoned that we’d move our still-good older couch to the basement. It would be great down there!

Now, the house we lived in then had a curvy little stairway we always thought was unique and quaint. However, our old couch was not built for quaintness. It had been built to stand out, built like much of the furniture from the mid-1990s; big and bulky with large curved arms that made the buyer think they were getting something well made and long lasting.

Try as we might, we could not get the couch down the stairs. We also tried to sell it. I mean, it was only a little over 7 years old at the time. Shoot, we couldn’t even give it away.  These were before the days of Facebook and instant messaging. Nobody wanted it. Nobody could fit it down the steps.

A good friend of ours offered to store it in his basement and came with his truck one day to haul off the couch. At the time, the boys were both quite little, and they cried bitterly as the only couch they’d ever known drove off into the sunset. It was a pitiful scene.

Fast forward to our third home with a good-sized finished basement and plenty of room for the old couch, still in good shape and ready to come back from its temporary home.  Indeed, it was like a member of the family coming home again.

The boys became teenagers, and the couch became a favorite spot in the family room.  Many video games and hours of TV were watched with a teenager or up to four members of the family sprawled out there. A little worn here and there, a bit old looking maybe. But still, it was comfortable and looked pretty good

After careful planning one day, we surmised we could accommodate a different furniture arrangement if we got rid of the couch, now pushing 20 years old.  Yes, we’d gotten the goods out of it, but it wasn’t in bad enough shape to throw out.  OK. Let’s try this again.

Again, we asked around, posted it on a “swap and sell” site on Facebook, and it wasn’t long before the old girl was snatched up by a person willing to pay a little bit for a good, used couch. We were honest about her flaws but also sang her praises. Sold. The buyer would pick up on Friday.

As I write, the couch sits in our garage, ready to be picked up and placed on the back of a truck. It has been vacuumed and “fluffed up.” In many ways, it looks almost the same as it did the day we bought it with a sort of sepia tone over it, much like a slightly faded photograph of a favorite outfit or memorable happening.

I always scoff at people who get too attached to stuff.  But, as we get ready to finally get rid of our very first furniture purchase, it’s not the couch that causes a little melancholy to set in. I suppose it’s the memories.  I suppose it’s thinking about each of the kids as babies and little ones. Many naps were taken on that couch with a bunch of pillows crowded around. Sleepovers with popcorn and Disney movies followed the making up of the hide away bed. Hundreds of stories were read there, a few time outs were spent there, many tears and laughs took place on that velvety fabric.

Forgive me for writing a long column about selling an old couch. It may be a seemingly boring and uneventful thing to write about.

And though it sounds a bit cliche, I have to say it: if this couch could talk. Well, it would have a lot of stories to tell. Stories that mean the most to us, of course. But good memories and good stories all the same.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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