Over the weekend, Sean and I bought a new couch on impulse. In case you're wondering, that picture above is of the old couch; I don't yet have a picture of the new couch to show you, because I'm still getting used to it, but it is taupe and suede and L-shaped. You can see it here, but you have to promise not to picture it with those lime green pillows. Instead, insert it into the picture above, replace the coffee table with something lower and darker, and there you have my living room in San Francisco. You know, in case you cared.
Getting rid of the old couch was far more traumatic than I thought it would be. Sean and I bought that couch the first week we lived in Charleston, and when it was delivered, we looked at each other with mounting panic, as it became clear that it was entirely, ridiculously too big for our teensy 500-square-foot apartment. When we moved to a new place a year later, a place with 13-foot ceilings and more space than we knew what to do with, it suddenly looked proportional again and not like something from Alice in Wonderland. But then we moved again, across the country this time, and when we'd dragged it out of the U-Haul and into the living room in San Francisco, we realized we had to get something new. It was taking up space that could otherwise be used for all the other things we couldn't fit in our new, smaller West Coast flat. (See visual aid above!) Also, its cushions were like a map of every party we'd ever had in the last four years---at least every party where we'd served red wine to drunk people.
So we cheated on the big grey couch. We went to visit this other couch, a couch we'd been visiting for a while actually---the store it was in was right across the road from Trader Joes---and we cooed over its soft suede and its squishy pillows and its unabashed L-shapeness (what possibilities there are with an L-shaped couch! What hope!) And it turned out that on Saturday the new couch was on sale, WAS ON SALE ONLY UNTIL THE END OF THE DAY, and so we said screw it, we'll have a new couch, and we plunked down our credit cards. I put an ad up on Craigslist for the old couch on Monday evening and by Tuesday afternoon, we'd sold it. I'm sad, actually, about the person we sold it to, a rather brusque young twentysomething who was far too blase about is squishiness and comfiness, who didn't appreciate sufficiently the fact that you could pull all the pillows off and use it as a perfectly serviceable bed. Right after she'd paid me for it, another girl came to see it, and I almost ran after the first girl and told her the deal was off. The second girl was far more enthusiastic about the couch, would probably have vacuumed it religiously, but of course it was too late to change my mind. And whoever heard of turning down a potential buyer because they didn't seem enthused enough about their purchase?
It seems bizarre to mourn a couch, a couch that was covered with cat scratches and stains, a couch that was so incredibly large and hulking yet didn't really seat more than two people, a couch that sucked all the air out of the room. But it was the fact that Sean and I chose the couch together that made it significant, the fact that we made a decision as a couple, that we went around sitting on all the other couches in the Sofa Superstore in Charleston four years ago, hmming and maybe-ing and measuring and imagining. It was something more than a couch. It was a beginning.
To tell you the truth, I'm not digging the new couch as much yet---do mothers feel this way about their second babies? That their hearts are too full of love and nostalgia for the old one to care too much about the new one?---although I think I'm slowly getting there. I never like anything at first, of course, it always takes me a few days, which is why I was sort of nervous about getting my hair cut the day after getting a new couch; I mean, imagine the potential for tears! The minefield of frustration! The pondering about which I hated more, my living room or my head! But strangely, the new haircut worked out pretty well; I sort of really like it, in fact. I chose my influences well, you see: I printed out this picture of the back of Dooce's head (creepy or smart? You decide!) and told the stylist I wanted the back to look like that, I brought an old photo and said "sort of like this with the bangs, but not so shaggy," and then I threw in a little AB Chao as well, describing her (perfect perfect) hair from my own imagination. My stylist took one look at me, listened to all of this, and then said "can I get you something to drink? A glass of wine?"
(A glass of wine while you're getting your hair cut, by the way, is an excellent idea. It will keep you from picking up random pieces of hair while the stylist is cutting away and saying "is this supposed to be this short?" and "are these even?" and "we can do a little more layering here, right? We can't? What do you mean, we can't?" Actually, I think my stylist may even have slipped me a Xanax as well. Which would explain why I merely laughed when seeing a liquor store get robbed right in front of me while I was walking home from my appointment, the culprit sprinting out with a 12-pack of Corona and darting across the street into incoming traffic. To be fair, the owner merely came outside, shrugged, and said "So stupid! Why he hef to do that? Now he get his ess in a car eccident!" The whole thing was like a damn Mentos commercial.)
So, you know, here's to new beginnings and all that---sleeker sofas, shorter hair, and whatever else you might be celebrating in your own lives as spring turns into summer. Change is good, I suppose. Hair grows back, new couches start feeling like old couches, unfamiliar rooms look familiar again. And if all else fails, you can always just buy new throw pillows. Or a hat.