Childhood memories are disjointed yet clear. Summer memories of sprinklers and popsicles and coconut suntan lotion collide with winter memories of football games and face paint and baby dolls and drawing pictures of horses and cocker spaniels from those little ‘Learn to draw’ books and school book fairs and first crushes. There are no dates and times on these memories. They are interwoven to make up the whole picture of my childhood….the childhood I desperately want to recreate for my own children. These memories have all left little traces on me, making me into the me I am now.
Enter my old couch.
In my first memories, it was black leather in our wood-paneled basement. Since my childhood home was also my father’s childhood home, it housed many relics from my grandparents. The couch was one of them…at least for a while. In my memory football was on and there were lots of adults. In another memory, cousins were assembled and Frogger was being played on the Atari that was on loan to my sisters and me, until my mother feared it was rotting our brains (and she was probably right). And when we weren’t paying attention, our chihuahua/beagle mixes used its arms to soothe their aching puppy teeth.
In the late 80’s, my grandparents finally took it to their house near the shores of the Kentucky Lake and it was reupholstered with a deep maroon fabric. There it lived against the back wall of their home, basking in reunions of all kinds: brothers and sisters, mothers and children, cousins, aunts and uncles. It quietly overheard skillful piano playing, young children plunking out classics, and younger children sliding their fingers across the keys without notice. It saw summers and winters and falls and springs, and children happy to spend quarters from their Pop on bubblegum and M&Ms. Maybe our parents didn’t know we were sneaking MTV when they weren’t looking, but that couch did. And it grew tired of Anne of Green Gables played over and over to adoring little girls. And there was laughter, and there were tears, and there was singing…so much singing.
When Pop and Bunny went to spend Pop’s last years in Arkansas with my aunt, my parents in Iowa, inherited the couch. Things were different now. Little girls no longer bounced and draped their bodies on its cushions free from worry, free from obligation. They had learned to drive, learned to date, and gone off to college wide eyed and full of dreams. And it sat alone in a basement once more. Even the little puppies, now old and grayed, were too old for their former antics. And life was quiet for the couch.
Then, in 2001, at the height of the Chandra Levy investigation and what seemed like a record number of shark attacks in Florida, but really just the calm before the storm that is America today, I asked that old couch to come to Texas with me and be my friend. It watched, with me, the Twin Towers fall and Friends wrap up it’s glorious run. It cradled my friends and sisters and me during the inevitable heartbreaks of our turbulent twenties. It saw engagements and good-byes and degrees. And it stayed…right here, with us.
Now, having transitioned from old to vintage, it sits in my guest room. My dogs sneak in there for alone time or snuggles. Little girls bounce while I read Shel Silverstein, and try to steal my iPhone for secret peeks at PBS Kids (which may or may not be rotting their minds). And the once fresh puppy teeth marks have been smoothed out by the years and the love. And life goes on…with my vintage couch. And though, it can’t talk, there are stories in the couch. There are traces of my life and all of my loves on that couch.
This post was inspired by: Daily Post, Weekly Challenge, Traces.