A sofa is forever

Before I moved into my last apartment, I was obsessed by this idea of a sauce pan. I had a big sauce pan (like for popcorn, or once-a-winter huge stew), and a tiny sauce pan (like for actual sauce), but no mid-sized sauce pan (like for any normal thing that you might conceivably cook). I actually had nightmares about this. Like wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night cannot-go-back-to-sleep anxiety dreams.

As I prepare to move into my new place February 1st, my obsession with housewares has returned–only this time, the thing I can’t stop thinking about is a sofa.

Let me back up. Five or six years ago, my parents replaced their living room furniture for the first time in–well, ever, pretty much. And they gifted me their old sofa bed. It was a ridiculous object for a semi-transient 20-something to own–massive, heavy and older than I am by at least three years.

sofa image
The sofa in 2010, with strategic patching

I absolutely adored it. I actually chose apartments based on whether or not it would fit inside. I dragged that thing around through four different moves as it decayed before my eyes, acquiring cat scratches at one apartment, the back growing weak and wobbly in another, the mattress on the fold-out bed compressing, the cushions shrinking like dried sponges. Like some rare and valuable collectable taken out from under the glass, it aged more in five years with me than in 25 with my scrupulous family.

I didn’t care. I had the actual original receipt from when my parents bought it. I remembered building forts out of the cushions as a little kid. I slept on the fold-out for weeks at a time as a teenager, once because I found a mouse in my room, another time as a protest against my white lace-covered daybed. I have a scar on my leg from where the mettle frame cut me once. I loved the way the fuzzy upholstery felt against my face. To this day, I miss that thing like it was a dead pet.

Eventually, though, I was brought to see reason: it was old; it was uncomfortable; it was impossible to drag up and down stairs; no one I knew was willing to help me move it again; even my my baby brother didn’t want it. So, at length I abandoned it with my harpy scank roommates (who are so completely undeserving of the gift that is that sofa, by the way).

Today, a sofa bed has once again become my weird, borderline unhealthy object of transference. I think about it while I go to sleep. Why?

Its not that I’m this big entertainer or anything, but I hate the idea of having a bed as the main focal point of the place where I live. Why not? one might reasonably ask. After all, I lived in roughly 7 different cramped, San Francisco shotgun-style apartment, with no common space and extra beds jammed in the closets and laundry areas since, oh, about 2005. And dorms, before that. So, you know. Its not like I’m shy about having people sit on my bed (though I’d prefer they keep their feet off it).

I don’t know what it is exactly. A living room is sort of a personalized public space. And that appeals to me. And a living room has a sofa, not a bed. That’s not it though; not entirely. I like that sofas are big: they can’t be crammed in here or there. They anchor the place where you live. A sofa is a piece of furniture. I like that sofas last: they’re the kind of thing you pick out in your 20s and still own in your 50s (at least in my family). It’s a big, old, investment; status and stability.

Plus my place is tiny. I need floor space to pace in; it helps me to think.


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