Suite 1406, 2005
When they got married, what furniture my parents had was furniture my mother bought when she was a legal secretary in the late 1930s making $6 a week. She bought an elegant horsehair couch with carved gooseneck arms and elaborate claw feet, a handmade four-poster bed and matching chests of drawers, an Oriental rug, and a cherry dining room table. This furniture followed my parents from apartment to apartment, from Norfolk to Kansas City and back.
When I came along in the early 1950s, they had settled in Virginia Beach and still had that same furniture. It became the backdrop against which the death of their marriage played out. After the divorce, my mother kicked off her new single life by having the furniture refinished, recovered or, in the case of the dining room table, rebuilt.
Each of my parents went on to marry again. Both eventually divorced again. When our father died, neither my sister nor I needed any of the furnishings from his home. They’d been his second wife’s things. We’d liked her. But the furniture didn’t mean anything to us. So we gave most of it to people we knew could use it.
A decade later, when our mother moved to assisted living, my sister and I were confronted with the furniture we’d grown up with. We each found something we liked. But the rest was troubling, especially the living room furniture. We’d watched too many arguments between our parents take place on it. As we cleaned out our mother’s apartment, we avoided that furniture and those memories. We found new homes for as much of the stuff as we could. But the living room furniture had no takers. Some people considered it too nice, others too old fashioned.
My sister lives far away from here. So the “undeclared” furniture was moved into my garage. It stayed there, haunting me every time I stepped into the garage, while we figured out what our mother would be able to use at her new home. I took some over to try to make the new place homey. But most of it came back.
Unaware of the bad vibes nesting in its spring and fibers, a neighbor finally took the furniture to use at a beach house. Whenever we visit that beach house now, I try to be as inconspicuous as possible as I work my way around the living room trying to find something to sit on that didn’t use to be part of our family history.