Monday, August 11, 2003

Some Kind of Furniture Stampede?

No, I am not still wandering the streets. My birthday surprise was ready. So I came home. The whole library had been rearranged to accommodate the new couch we picked up last week. Literally picked up; an elderly lady at a local trailer park was giving it away. It’s a deep jade green dual-recliner sofa, the kind whose center cushion can be flipped down to provide a surface for snacks and popcorn. It’s got cupholders, even—and better yet, dual massage action. It’s scarcely worn, and it matches the blue/green/tan plaid pillows we already had, which match the blue bookcases and the tan love seat. Amazing. But the presents were still hidden behind a screen in the corner.

Michele made supper—homemade pasta with a lovely mushroom sauce—and I contributed a tomato-cream sauce for the nonfungivores among us. Broccoli, too, and good sourdough bread.

Only then did I get to open my presents. They took the screen away from the corner of the library, and voila! A stack of beautifully wrapped gifts atop a fine beige recliner that sure as hell wasn’t there in the morning.

Besides working on the chair, Sonja got me exciting things to wear: several pairs of socks in cool colors (I am a socks fiend), a sexy green lace-up top, new black jeans, and a comfy loungy sundress. Michele ordered me the new Neil Gaiman story CD, which I’m awaiting with great eagerness. (Mmmm, gimme.) And Paul got me an amazing magnifying visor, which will let me wear my glasses while it magnifies everything to double its normal size—a real help when working on fine cross-stitch projects. I haven’t been able to work on fine counts of fabric for a couple of years, since my eyes are aging. Now I’ll be able to use them again.

My mother sent me an embroidered top, a lot of family pictures, some goodies from Orchard House (she knows I love Louisa May Alcott), and a package of "Votes for Women" napkins. Lisa sent me a lovely picture of Jessica. And my very dear Gwen and Adrian sent me a book of California natural history and an Annie Hall DVD.

The recliner is the big present. I don’t know where they got the chair, but it is perfect—a nice comfy size, set beneath my good three-way lamp so I can have proper light for reading or writing or cross-stitching. A small table next to it is just right for holding stacks of current reading and a cup of tea. It’s close to an outlet for my laptop, and it’s a good spot for being sociable: near the couch and love seat and Michele’s desk, so I can be online or reading and still be near my people. The chair is next to the library shelves that hold some of my favorite books, too, and it’s in a corner, so I never have to worry about jumping when someone comes up behind me.

If they had spent a thousand dollars, they couldn’t have given me a better birthday present than that chair—but it’s more than just a recliner. It’s my own spot here in the public areas of the house. Of course I have a bedroom, and I can always go work in my office when I want to be alone. But I missed having a space of my own downstairs. The house is ours, but I’m territorial: I needed a place that was mine. A place where I would have my stitching or my book at hand, where I can be in my own space and yet invite conversation with my Califamily. And though none of them really comprehend this strange territoriality of mine, these conflation of autonomy and belonging and space, they were kind enough and loving enough to make it for me.

Then we had lemon cake and lived happily ever after.

No comments: