Heirlooms: a love story?
Dan has been on a cleaning and organizing binge for the past six months. (Side note: is there a sexier way to describe any man? I mean, really? Is there anything hotter than of a bottle of Windex and the phrase, "Do you care if I throw this out?")
One of his targets has been our attic, but he's also focusing on other areas of the house. A few days ago, he was sorting through a drawer and came across a stack of old photos. As he was sharing them with me, I paused on this one:
That's my tiny little hubby in red, sitting on his great grandmother's lap, circa 1967, his older siblings, Debbie and David, nestled in on either side.
That's also my old couch.
When I moved in with Dan back in 1990, he owned a little duplex in Frogtown, a working class neighborhood just outside of St. Paul's downtown district. As I quickly discovered, he was the sibling who always said 'yes' to the cast offs and family hand-me-downs.
Want your uncle's trunk of clothes from the 50s? Yes! Want your grandparents' old furniture? Absolutely! How about this collection of antique tincture bottles from the 1930s? I have JUST the place for that!
He has always been a man with a soft spot for the old and gently used. Not only that, he's always been a man with a sincere respect and love for the quality, craftsmanship and style from the days of yore. He's a fan of the vintage.
The couch you see in the photo above was his—and in turn became ours—for the first eight years of our married life. I brought practically nothing of substance to our union, in terms of earthly possessions. I added a bed, and a black futon and a black futon-like coffee table. (And of course, my sparkling personality!) But my cheap, college furniture didn't really stand the test of time like that old, inherited couch did.
The couch was relegated to the porch in the early 2000s, and then with our remodel in 2010, we said goodbye to it for good. It was, afterall, falling into disrepair and though it was hard for Dan to say that last goodbye, we did, in fact, bid it a final adieu.
Seeing this photo, I had a great idea: I'll find some photos that show our more recent past on the couch—us, the kids, friends, family—and I'll combine it with this photo for a layout, or a blog post, or something to show how things weave themselves effortlessly into the backgrounds of our lives.
So I sat down yesterday and pored over my photo albums. The active years this couch had in our family was during the pre-digital camera years, so I knew I would find photos in the pages of my traditional photo albums.
It was so fun to page through the albums, reconnecting with so many photos and so many memories. Page after page of our lives. I couldn't help but feel like in this digital era, where so many of my photos end up as bits and bytes in an iPhoto library, that not having a complete, printed photographic record at my disposal was somehow a loss.
And as I went through every possible album that could hold a photo of this couch's golden years, the only shot I ended up finding was this, from 2001:
Can you see it? In the upper right side of this shot, taken on Coleman's 2nd birthday? The beautiful curve of that inlaid wood? The classic fabric from a time long since passed?
That's the couch. And that is the only photo I could find that even showed a trace of it being in our home.
And that's when it hit me:
I hated that freaking couch.
It was small and scratchy and dark and you sunk into it every time you sat down, on account of the completely wasted and ancient infrastructure. It smelled funny, too.
Okay, maybe hated is too strong a word, but the day it went out to the porch was a happy day for me. And the day it left the premises completely? I think overjoyed comes to mind.
I guess the point to my story is this: not every heirloom is automatically cherished and loved.
I've never really been a vintage kind of girl.
I never loved that piece of furniture.
I loved the man that came with the couch like crazy though. Still do, in fact.
And that, blog readers, is probably the real point to this story.
Maybe that will make a great scrapbook page afterall.