AND THEN AGAIN……by Tamara Pettit

…..Does furniture hold emotional significance for you?  A piece of furniture is after all not a living, breathing being.  It is inanimate.  My favorite consignment shop is full of furniture cast aside for newer, fresher pieces.  I love to decorate and redecorate, but I am in a quandary about one chair, a big old leather chair, soon to be 30 years old.   .

…..I was in 1994 when I spotted the chair in a Restoration Hardware store window in Pittsburgh.   I knew immediately it had to be mine.  Shannon was with me and she followed me into the store where without regard for decorum I plopped myself right down on the chair and put my feet up on the ottoman.  As shoppers went by staring and laughing, I was in another place.  I had already transported the chair to my house in my mind.

…..  “This is it,” I said as she gave me the look grown children often give their mother when they think she has finally gone over the edge.  The chair was pricey for sure, way beyond my budget at the time, but I had to have it.   I can’t  define what it represented, I was on my own, juggling service in the legislature and a job and it was a comforting, stable place to land.    It first made its  home on Second Avenue in New Cumberland.   It was a curl up chair    It was by size a “manly” chair for you could just imagine someone like Winston Churchill with a cigar and a glass of brandy relaxing as he considered the politics of the day in Great Britain.   Well, I spent a lot of evenings considering my small part of the politics of West Virginia in that chair with a glass of wine.

…..The chair came with me to a newly constructed home in Chester and took up residence  in a grand, two-story living room surrounded by my newly acquired pieces.    Neither the chair nor I were at home in the house or the marriage  and after very short time I knew it was time to go…….home.   The house was sold and the new furniture and I packed up to return to the very house in which I grew up.  The house was in the midst of a major remodel and the plan was to live in the family room/office level while work was done on the top two levels.   The furniture would be stored in the garage with the exception of the king-sized bed in the office and my trusty leather chair and tv in the family room.  When the moving truck and I arrived, it was raining and the back of the garage had caved in and flooded,   the furniture went into storage for four months while  I and my leather chair set up camp.  I remember never being so happy as when I curled up in that chair that first night.  The family room still sported a mid-century décor with paneled walls and a purple tiled bathroom while the upstairs floors were uninhabitable.  It didn’t matter.     I was where I was meant to be.

…….My leather chair soon moved up to the living room where my all-time favorite room took shape around it.    It held a place of honor.  My world would expand to include a husband, (yes, I found the love of my life late in my life) who on his first visit settled in the chair.   A puppy named Max would follow in a few years.   The chair soon became Max’s favorite place and his rich mahogany coat blended right in with the leather.   I babied that chair and conditioned it, but Max soon found a corner to chew on and the chair cushion now has a corner where the stuffing is coming out.   What to do?

……I spend today conditioning the chair; rubbing out the marks where a too exuberant Max has scratched and I think the cushion can be patched.   It will never be perfect again.   It’s a far site from the chair I first spied in the store window in 1994.  .   Neither the chair nor I knew what the coming decades would hold, so we are both a bit weathered and wiser.  I finish and Max climbs up and he too settles in.   I am reminded of the Velveteen Rabbit in which the toy rabbit describes how he was loved by a little boy and became worn, his ear torn off and his stuffing coming out.  It was being loved that made him real  Perhaps, my leather chair has experienced so much of life with me,  it too has become real.