I moved a nice chair, an antique of some sort, some in the family called it “Gooseneck,” “Goose Hollow,” and “Gram’s Chair,” and it had been reupholstered after a slight bit of water damage while in storage, and put back in use and now showing new signs of wear, but in a good way.
It was in the south end of the living room, at least it was when I moved it into the guest suite, but it had been all over the living room, even as far on the north end near the fireplace, but mostly at this other end, against one wall, then nearer the east windows, and then back and forth, until its final resting place was on the south end of the living room, in front of a radiator, in front of the big windows, paired with an old Morris chair that had, to be honest, seen better days, having been painted by a brother-in-law before he was a brother-in-law, before I had ever met my in-process-ex-wife, before, probably when I was just in high school, that long ago. Nonetheless, the black-painted oak Morris chair was a good chair, even with the vinyl covering of the big rectangular cushions, and it too was at rest at the south and east end of the living room, towards the corner, also in front of the big windows, with some house plants, including one giant one, behind it.
There is a list.
This list, “Household Property Request,” is several pages long, but when I consider that it represents first thoughts of who gets what from a marriage of some thirty-three years, I realize how short the list is. The list is also weirdly detailed, specific about a particular jam jar, a copper ladle, a tray from Haiti, the design on a soup tureen. And in turn, the list is strangely general at times, citing “Tablecloths/napkins” and “books” and “photo albums,” where, I’m sure, specific categories and sub-sets would be far more helpful.
The pieces of furniture in the living room are clearly described, as is the dining room set, wholesale furnishings of rooms that are sentenced to host different occupants, gone from one story long told, but now being rewritten, intentionally awaiting another. Many of the little objects on the list mean little to me, and honestly, some of them I never liked, but the gooseneck chair, I tell you, looks great where I moved it into the guest room, after she moved out, and the colorful rocker, still in the living room, still looks nice from its own reupholstering even though that got done a good decade or so back. I confess that I’d miss the Morris, too, even with that old paint job and vinyl cushion covers, and it is funny what makes me think of the life I’ve had and the life I want to continue, what pieces of this life go where, or simply go.
I’ll admit that I like my rooms arranged like stage sets, all set, and, after all, aren’t all rooms really simply that, a stage in which and through which we strut and pose and clamor, or am I being too dramatic? One strikes a set, there are changes of scene, people go off to somewhere else all the time, the cast changes, I suppose.
There are a couple of wingback recliners I’d bought at a yard sale, in nice shape, just starting to show some wear if one looked closely, the bottom frame of one a bit wobbly when making a certain side-to-side shift, but nice enough for the price, and one now is at an in-law’s house, up on risers for my father-in-law, the added height easing the up and down of his, his walker nearby, in easy reach, although, let’s be honest, not much is all that easy when you’re closing in on a century of living, it seems to me. My soon-to-be ex-wife-is living at that house at this moment, but I doubt she sits in this recliner, and I know she had allowed the purchase of these two recliners rather reluctantly, back awhile, even though they’ve proved immensely useful, the one not re-enforced with long bolts and screws is down by the north end fireplace, separated by circumstance from the other borrowed by the in-laws, now these two summers, for Dad’s long seasons of visit, before which he had spent the summers with us, and it was in my living room that the first design of the risers for the recliner came into being.
The wingback recliners are not on my wife’s property list, and I wonder if we’ll have to be more thorough with the list to please the judge, when it comes time for that, and so I’m wondering, I guess, if the list is kind of like filing taxes, up to the filer to be as honest as he or she chooses, with little chance of being second-guessed.
I mean, one of the wingback recliners isn’t even here.
I want to add other items that are here no longer, other furniture that had been used up, discarded, or given over to one or another of the kids, and objects of all sorts, like the pile of surf-smoothed coal lumps that the wife had long displayed in a bowl that also, now that I think of it, isn’t on the list. Other items: the kids’ old Halloween costumes, mismatched socks, dirty diapers, knee-blown pants, the detached head of that first Barbie that had floated around my desktop for who knows how many years? And where is that wood chair I’ve long thought of upholstering, making up cushions with stuffed animals roped and netted together, polar bear snouts and cloth doll’s hands sticking into one’s lower back, the stuffed lamb’s wool or the bright red shorts of a big Mickey Mouse pressing a thigh or shoulder?
But I believe that my wife believes, even with a fervent acolyte’s belief, that there already is too much clutter, too many things, and she’s trimming her life for closer sailing, stripping down the stuff of years in some belief that she begins anew, but I’ll tell you that I suspect it’s a bit like those coal lumps, positioned by her hand around the house to generate some sort of spirit field guaranteed by all the best advice and tarot tosses to ward off negativity or something, but these got tossed once time settled enough dust on the lumps to be noticeable.
I’m going to argue for the gooseneck or the Morris, and I’ll put the recliners in the library when Dad passes on, but I’m in no rush for any of it, that’s true.