I’m not much of a couch person. I bought one years ago from Jennifer Convertibles, a huge white monstrosity with a matching love-seat, poorly made and cheap. I got them with the Catholic guilt money, most of which I used to take a trip to Disney World and buy a car. What I had left over funded something I thought I wanted and had never had: Matching living room furniture.
In reality, I hated that set. The couch folded out into the most hideously uncomfortable sleeper imaginable, with a heavy bar in the middle and a thin mattress. I had a lot of guests in those days. They valiantly endured that stupid bed. Ten years later, I got rid of it and bought a slide-out futon with a mission frame for fifty bucks on Craig’s List. It matched nothing in my house and slept three kids like a dream.
Here’s the thing about that sofa and love-seat. They matched. They had the same awful white upholstery and identical bulky, impossible arms. I never understood how such fat cushions could nonetheless be hard but those were. However, did I mention? They matched.
I’m not June Cleaver. I don’t vacuum in pearls or wear high heels while I make pot roast. In fact, I don’t own any heels and I’m a vegetarian. Although I used to eat chicken and fish, I have as a matter of historical record, never so much as purchased a pot roast much less cooked one.
I tried to be that woman. I hung curtains, and planted begonias, and bought those weird little pillows which you pile on your bed, though I admit that I got them at a thrift store. I straightened my Syrian frizz and bought a Coach purse on eBay. I struggled into boots and raked mascara across my eyelashes. At cocktail parties, I asked all the right questions and avoided mention of my unfortunate past.
But none of that mattered in the end. I’m not that person. I never was. I never could be. My hair reclaimed its curl. I threw away the make-up and tossed the fashion-boots into the Goodwill bag. I started wearing sweater dresses with leggings.
Somehow, though, there’s a couch in my living room. I didn’t buy it. I didn’t want it. I didn’t ask for it, or select it. Yet here it is.
Jennie Taggart Wandfluh gave me a throw for Christmas this year, a soft thing with a light blue pattern. It perfectly matches the thrift store pillows which lean against the ones that came with the couch. I even sit on the sofa from time to time, my feet on the coffee table, reading my Scandinavian crime fiction, eating cranberries, and waiting for the amaryllis in the kitchen to bloom.
It’s the twenty-second day of the thirty-seventh month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.