When I moved into my apartment three months ago, I had whatever fit into my Prius and the few boxes of books my parents shipped me from Chicago. A couple of large shopping trips later and I had made quite the little home out of my studio loft apartment.
This was my first time living alone since, well, ever. So either I bought something myself, or I learned to go without.
My intention was always to get a couch. After experiencing sticker shock in the midst of my IKEA shopping trip, however, I decided I would just get a futon at Target or someone would be selling a cheap couch on craigslist. Meanwhile, I had plenty of furniture to assemble and move-in: tables, chairs, a coffee table, book shelves, a desk, lamps, a bed. The essentials.
One month went by. I had my first “dinner party.” I arranged every chair I had (plus my crazy creek) in a lop-sided circle around the outskirts of my studio. With people sitting awkwardly upright in chairs and on the ottoman and coffee table, we almost-but-not-really fit nine people.
Another month went by. The coffee table had gotten pushed up against the wall – providing a makeshift seat – so many times that I eventually stopped moving it back to the center of the room; in front of the imaginary couch that had yet to materialize.
Finally, three months in, and I’ve stopped pretending that I’m going to buy a couch. Between being gone most of the summer and most likely moving into a house with some friends in the fall, it’s not worth it.
Living without a couch has been a strange thing. When I come home there’s no where to plop down. The desk chair signifies emails, papers, and work, the IKEA Poang chair (you know the one) means reading for classes, laying in bed makes me fall asleep. My only other options are standing at the kitchen cooking (or doing dishes), or sitting at the dining table to eat.
The couch is an important piece of furniture in the home; more than I realized. It’s the great equalizer for our obsession with efficiency and productivity. It’s a place to lounge, talk, rest, watch movies, read novels, and take an afternoon nap. It signifies pause, comfort, the in-between of our crazy and scheduled lives.
I’ve gotten a lot done in these last few months: I’ve read more books, written more papers, cooked more food, hosted more dinners and “whoopie (pie) Wednesdays”, walked more places, and cleaned more frequently than ever before.
I feel alive, active, and present. But I’m also ready to lounge, to snuggle up on a couch and watch a few hours of Project Runway marathons, or something equally time wasting and inefficient. Not for forever, just for a moment of in-between-pause.