Monday, May 5, 2014


Last Friday night, we bought a sofa. I was so impressed by our quick decision-making that I posted this momentous event on Facebook.

At the time, I thought the alacrity with which we'd made our decision was the momentous part, but now that I've had time to consider the implications more carefully, I realize that's not what was momentous at all.

When we first bought this house, my husband and I were newlyweds. We spent the first couple of years pouring sweat equity into this, our first home. The downstairs bedroom was first an empty room, then an office. For the first few years, it was furnished with the leftovers that didn't belong anywhere else in the house and, as with any other "spare" room, it collected more than its fair share of junk.

The first piece of furniture we purchased specifically for the office was a desk. It was a cheap, fiberboard unit with a file drawer and its primary function was to hold the computer and my writing files. I worked at that desk most Fridays, putting words on the screen, then printing them out and sending them to magazines with the requisite SASE. I wrote columns for a local paper and a regional magazine at that desk, too, and set up my first ever email account on AOL while my husband was away on a business trip.

After my daughter was born, the desk began to collect dust and the room began to collect detritus. Eventually we cleared everything out (except a lateral file cabinet that was too heavy to move), put the desk and the computer in the basement, carpeted the floor and made the office into a playroom. Shortly thereafter, we looked for the next room-specific piece of furniture -- a cushioned chair so that grown-ups had somewhere to sit in the playroom, whether it was to read a story or take a break from the floor. It was the only thing in the room that retained an office aura, and it was my reading perch for grown-up books on quite a few occasions.

What I wish it looked like - LOL!
When my daughter was in elementary school, we sold the chair (which housed stuffed animals more often than people) at a yard sale to make room for a desk for her. A corner desk, per her specifications, which became more clutter catcher than homework space.  Eventually it, too, departed the room like its fiberboard cousin, only it went straight to the curb. In pieces.

When my parents got recliners for their TV room, we inherited the chairs they replaced. I loved those chairs -- still do -- and so we brought them home to move into the office/playroom, beginning its transition into something more like a family room. But, in typical Cape Cod (house, not town in Massachusetts) fashion, the doorway was too small for the chairs, so they were relocated to the basement. Eventually a television stand (also a hand-me-down from my parents), an ottoman and new storage units (of the cube and bin variety) made it into the room to corral the clutter. When I retired, the oversized pillows I'd used in my office did their time as flexible seating for a while, until we finally broke down and bought a cheap (and I do mean cheap -- the fiberboard desk was an architectural masterpiece by comparison) sofa at Target.

Then last Friday night, we bought a new sofa. The old sofa was stained with nail polish (wish I could blame that on my daughter, but I can't) and had a broken arm. We found a sofa that was inexpensive, but definitely a step up -- one with leather cushions and reclining seats -- at the first place we looked. Fastest furniture purchase ever, and one destined to assist the room in assuming its new identity.

The office/playroom/man cave, however, retains traces of all its incarnations. The lateral file from its turn as an office. Plastic drawer units, inexpensive fiberboard cupboards and closet shelves that still hold outgrown toys and craft materials and a storage ottoman filled with Webkinz. Body pillows covered in animal prints, and two pink giraffe print tables with very short legs rescued from my office at an elementary school.

This summer, we will go through the bins and shelves (again) and try to part with a few more toys, games and outgrown supplies, making room for whatever comes next. Two decades have passed since the room was an office, and it's been more than a decade since Barbies and Polly Pockets littered the carpeted floor. The tables and pillows can stay as long as they earn their keep and stay out of the way, but it's possible that the new sofa will render them superfluous.

In two years, the toddler who played on that floor will head to college to decorate a room of her own
that will be part bedroom, part office and part hangout, leaving behind more memories than the office/playroom/man cave has space to hold. That thought makes me sad, and a little more inclined to hold on to the toys and games still tucked away in the closet, but holding on to them won't forestall her journey, nor should it.

So perhaps I should just look forward to the room's next incarnation, enjoying the view from our new sofa.

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