I remember my feet not touching and white patent leather shoes.
My memories are blurry, fuzzy as if I am looking into them through the filter of a gauzy sheet. But I remember colors and the way our enormous living room was cut in half right at the built in curio shelves. There was a good side and the one with the brown couches, where we’d ask each other to make room by bellowing “square over” as we maneuvered ourselves and a favorite blanket onto a personal piece of that coveted real estate.
The brown couch smelled of sleep and lingering colognes. Perhaps Loves Baby Soft or my mother’s Tova. We were allowed to bring bags of popcorn and bowls of Apple Jacks onto that side but the good living room was off limits unless there was a family meeting or ‘company.’
Where the brown couches faded into the background becoming part of our family landscape until you required a place to sit while you took in General Hospital, the colors of the furniture on the other side of the room stood out, giving the room more light than the wall of windows they faced.
There was a couch, French provincial style, the color of round, plump pumpkins and if felt like soft suede boots. I would run my fingers across the skin one way, making lines, marking my territory and then take my palm and push the material back to its original state over and over again.
That couch was hoity. And toity.
If I had a voice it would have been British and condescending.
And it had a sidekick; a chair that complimented and completed it.
Striped, with a wood trim that I would touch lightly every time on my way to the sunroom or the front door to check the pile of mail that would have been pushed through the built in metal slit at the bottom, I think of that chair as the centerpiece of my life in that house.
Sometimes, when the house was quiet or empty, I’d plop down in it, throw my legs over the side and read the books I stole from the space between the mattress and the headboard of my mom’s bed. But it was never comfortable or cozy.
That chair was a conversation starter, a “piece” or prop for family pictures, a place to stand behind for prom.
I was kissed in that chair once, long and sweetly, hands sneaking up the back of my sweater, and sometimes years later, I could still taste peppermint every time I glanced at it.
The chair, not the couch, was selected as worthy when my mom moved to a new house to begin a new life with a new husband. It sat in the basement like a regal guest and we we’d pile presents on it for Christmas Eve’s or position the boys in between its wide arms to stage candid shots of them in Grandma’s house.
Just like me, they were growing up with the orange chair in the background; the chair resembling a cousin you might only see a couple of times a year but enjoy the company of.
I didn’t give the chair another thought one way or the other until my mom had a yard sale earlier this summer.
I have taken to saying it quickly, before all the air leaves my lungs as I imagine a world in which my mom isn’t ten minutes away.
And they needed to start emptying their houses in preparation, so I stepped up to their open garage doors and into a web of nostalgia one hot and humid (similar to everyday in Savannah, I am thinking) morning in July.
Books from our childhood, clothes we wore as toddlers, plaques that adorned our walls and the makings of a nice kitchen from patterned table settings to sophisticated glassware.
Tiny pieces of our life, for sale.
And sitting on the edge of the collection was the orange chair.
Peripheral, as it often was, and seemingly out of place. Like a backwards ball cap at the Kentucky derby.
“Are you selling the Orange Chair?” I asked; my voice catching.
I walked over, running my hand over the colorful material and then along the smooth wooden trim. I sat down and placed my hands on the arms, mentally saving the way it felt under my fingers.
“Take my picture!” I yelled to my husband and he came over and snapped a photo of me looking up, the sun in my eyes.
The sale went on for another day, on Monday morning my mom called. Exhausted but happy, she told me about what’d they ended up selling.
“Someone is coming for the orange chair today.”
“Oh.” I said, unexpected tears pricking the edges of my eyes.
“The woman who bought it wanted for her daughter. She just got married and is trying to decorate her new home. We sold it for $30 and that mom was so excited about the colors and the price I couldn’t think of a better place for it.”
My heart suddenly lightened.
The chair would be used, sat in, perhaps even made fun of for its bright colors and pretentious manner of appearing like it was too good to be around other furniture. Perhaps someone else would tell a story like mine about it years and years from now, in the middle of another life.
“Good.” I said, meaning it.
I thought of my feet not touching when we first got the chair and all the pictures we’d taken in it, all the times we ran around it during games of tag, and how I hated moving it to vacuum every single week. The recollections came fast and furious as I allowed the memories of my siblings and our childhood to just wash over me.
Our orange chair had served our family well.
And I’ll always be so happy about that last picture.
My last picture in the orange chair.
For MamaKat’s Writing Workshop:
4.) Throwback time! Share an old photo and tell us about it.