Mine was a nondescript dollhouse. A donation to the pastor's family. It was sort of like a 1970's suburban split level made of thin boards tacked together, if that's not redundant. The furniture however, was AMAZING! Little plastic Victorian pieces that tickled and thrilled my imagination. Among them was a red couch, wavy backed and trimmed with ornate "wood". The Classic.
I've seen them from time to time. Huck's been with me as I've swooned at antique store windows in New Orleans, wondering how much delivery would be, when the couch itself was a month's wages. Ah. Dreams.
I wasn't really looking for a couch. On the list of large purchases we need to make (the '94 Cutlass Sierra S isn't going to go on FOREVER, and Jersey's in milk are expensive) a couch was really way down the list. Everyone hates the futon. I, because it reminds me of this past year. And everyone else because it's hellishly uncomfortable. But a couch wasn't in the foreseeable future.
I was actually perusing Craisglist for more vintage wicker, which I'm finding nice and cheap and is filling the solarium with an adorable, ornate wackiness. All I did, honestly, was just to type in "antique couches" just to see. Just so I could start casing the market. Just to see what's out there. What the prices are. Just to see.
And the last entry, the last one, was the couch from my dollhouse.
My mother-in-law was visiting and I showed the ad to her because she KNOWS antiques and is a hoity toity interior designer: "GASP! If that's in any kind of shape it's worth at least twice the price!!" But she warned it was likely uncomfortable and not suitable for a family.
I saw the conclusion. I could see it a mile away. And I felt like a lamb being led to slaughter. I hung my head and slowly trudged along this path I felt was predestined. I was pained. I didn't not want to spend money on a couch. I don't highly value couches in general. But I knew I had to see it.
After a few days, I called. A few days later, I visited.
It was a perfect, healthy, comfortable piece of furniture in exactly the right color. And she came down in price by a 1/3, which made it very hard to resist. I told her I'd sleep on it. But I didn't. I tossed and turned on it. For two nights. I hemmed and hawed. The expense. The kids. The cat. The imagining of a puppy. The beauty. The materialistic love. Wrong? Right?
I thought, Well, if I get this then I can't get that or that. But I caught myself. While Huck's salary is a modest beginning engineer salary, it's not like that anymore. That's a false choice now. Before, it was ACTUALLY true: if I buy a new swimming suit, we'll have to go without lunch for a week. But it's no longer true.
Where is the debriefing retreat from poverty? Why don't they have a little island you can go to with a counselor who helps you to understand: you are not on the verge of starvation any more, you can buy new underwear whenever you feel like it now, you don't have to search the seats for gas money, some old friends may despise you now, you won't feel like you deserve any of the material possessions you can now say yes to. But you must, you must move on from this humiliating place of deprivation.
It seemed that I was going to Just Say No to this couch, just because I have grown so unaccustomed to wild materialistic fantasies materializing.
In the meantime, Huck's birthday is tomorrow, so the kids and I went shopping for an afternoon on Perdition Road... er Division Street, Spokane's version of Aurora and the Guide... just a long strip of national chain hell. I don't know where to shop around here, and that was the most obvious place. I've had to spend three afternoons on that road since we moved in and each journey eviscerates my soul. Each time, I return home, exhausted, dirty, and icky inside and out. I hate it. The only cure I know is to read the Mystics.
So, I sat on my vintage wicker chaise (Craigslist/cheap/I'm madly in love with it) and read St. Terese of Avila and this is what she had to say about the material world:
I LOVED WHAT I COULD LOVE
I had a natural passion for fine clothes, excellent food, and lively conversation about all matters that concern the heart still alive. And even a passion about my own looks.
Vanities: they do not exist.
Have you ever walked across a stream stepping on rocks so not to spoil a pair of shoes?
All we can touch, swallow, or say aids in our crossing to God and helps unveil the soul.
Life smooths us, rounds, perfects, as does the river the stone, and there is no place our Beloved is not flowing, though the current's force you may not always like.
Our passions help to lift us.
I loved what I could love until I held Him,
for then - all things - every world disappeared.
On the way to see the couch the first time, a HUGE rainstorm hit, like I've never seen before. Rivers in the street. Rivers of God. I could barely drive through them.
As we drove home from that first meeting, a double rainbow arched above us. I know that rainbow was not just for me. But I felt it: our lives are going to be okay now. If I spend a little money on such a whimsy, it will be okay. This couch would not cause us to starve, nor return us to living in a garage. Our lives are on a different course now, one that a whimsical couch could not derail.
This week, I finished reading Marilyn Robinson's latest masterpiece, HOME. I finished it so intently today, that despite awaking with my very best intentions to uphold my cleaning duties, the house never got cleaned and in fact the kids made it way way worse while I was ignoring them with my book. Anyhow, I wept like a BABY, a freaking BABY at the end of this book. The whole point of the book is Home: being home, having a home, welcoming home, and accepting the good and wonderful things this life, and "god", want to give us.
When I finished weeping, I called Mary up and I told her I would buy her couch.
Tonight, as we drove home with it in bouncing behind us in the trailer, another rainbow grew up around us, and looked, from a certain angle, to sprout straight from our doorstep. And I know it's just an act of physics, but I couldn't help but wonder: the universe may just be longing for me lounge and relax on this, ANOTHER, amazing dream in my reality.
I've never said it before about blessings, but today I did: "What now?" I asked the rainbow, "What next?"
Well.... I've got a small list here... if you'd like to look it over....