The New Couches

After a year of so of complaining about how much I hated–hated— my saggy brown 80-percent-life-size couches, I bought some new ones. They were delivered a couple Saturdays ago and the 80-percenters were picked up by the delightful people from the Mary Potter Hospice shop warehouse. One is light gray and one is sort of a light bluey-green. They currently have three throw pillows each, and I am plotting to add many, many more. I have thought and talked about little else these last weeks.

In related news, I turn forty in a month. Many of the feelings and emotions I am having about that have been channeled into my feelings and emotions about the couches. I dithered and whinged about the old ones for so long but I could never get it together to do anything about replacing them. First I wasn’t working, and then I was working but I had to build up my savings, and then I thought that I should maybe look at secondhand options, and then I thought maybe I shouldn’t even think that I could have new couches at all, because participating in late-stage consumer capitalism is not the way to deal with one’s impending old age and assured mortality as a milestone birthday approaches.

But my back hurt so much, and the 80-percent couches were so saggy and scrinchily uncomfortable. And I saved up the money, more than I needed. And even though I want to move house, I probably won’t be moving house, because even though my bathroom is unspeakable, I am paying very reasonable rent in a great area of town and I feel like it would be stupid to give that up at this imminently-forty juncture of my life. And I kept thinking, ‘almost forty, almost forty’ and I felt bad about renting and I felt bad about my uncertain employment situation and I felt bad that a lot of people cannot afford couches at all, let alone nice gray or bluey-green ones, and then I (briefly) wondered if the answer was to a) get rid of the old couches but then not get any new couches at all, to just have nothing to sit on instead.

Then I snapped back to the almost-forty thing and thought, When will I have nice things that I really enjoy using, in my living space? I’ve lived in a series of cheap apartments and very nice share houses for eighteen years. I had a couple (horrible) beds, two futons, and an IKEA dressers when I lived in California and in Seattle; since I came to New Zealand I have either had a furnished room or collected things variously from TradeMe, the Warehouse, and friends who were leaving the country, as you do. That is not a bad way to do things, in my opinion, and I’m quite pleased that everywhere I’ve lived I’ve tried to make my space my own, even if I did furnish it from the two dollar shop.

Actually, I still have some things from the two dollar shop and from TradeMe and The Warehouse and friends who moved overseas. Some I fancied up with washi tape or wrapping paper or something, and some I have just left as is. But I find as I get more settled, as I truly understand that I am not leaving Wellington, it feels like I can…have things? So I decided ‘when I can have nice things’ is, all of a sudden: now.

I’ve probably had people more often in the past few weeks (‘come over and sit on the new couches!’) than in the past few years. My bandmate was in town and I was able to offer him a place to stay, no worries: ‘Just sleep on the couch!’. Under the influence of the new couches, I’ve got rid of my old dining room table and chairs that I never liked and never used. G up and bought himself a nice new desk and chair, in order to make the new couches feel at home and also because he had never owned any furniture that wasn’t old and broken and ugly. We’re framing prints and bringing fresh flowers into the house and seriously discussing painting a bookcase.

I think I will be able to handle it, if my forties are like the couches: comfortable, useful, gently stylish. I think I will be able to handle it if I can keep making a space for myself, full of things I enjoy and can share.


  1. Totally agree on all points. You have one life; you’re not frivolous; and you can afford (mentally/financially) to have something nice.

    (Says the person who occasionally buys prints and never hangs them up, because *what would happen when I move – I might have to take them out of the frame*.)

    Good on ya. And can’t wait to see the new couches next time I’m in Welly-town!

  2. New couches?! NEW COUCHES?! We must come stay at once…