(This piece was originally published by Monologging as part of an ekphrastic collaboration with NYC furniture maker, Wesley Burdett, and can be found with photographs here: http://monologging.org/?page_id=610)
My furniture is made of little nightmares, not just things carved into the bottoms of desks. I still have the desk I used as a boy. My father used it when he was a boy and I think his father before that. Maybe all fathers used that small flip-top desk at one point or another. My father had the stool reupholstered to class it up a bit in the eighties, make it look like something out of a rustic catalog, so I cannot feel the imprint of all the butt cheeks of all the fathers that came before me. I sit and feel at ease not being a father, like my butt cheeks are making their own imprints, like nobody has ever been anyone’s father at all.
My furniture has gone missing. How many futons left at bus stops? How many chairs have walked away from the party on their own? My furniture has self-destructed. Those foam wedge things that we stole from the pre-school for our own adult naptimes? They ate themselves in my basement while we dreamt of waterbeds filled with toothpaste. The studio with the roomful of hammocks became a graveyard of ripped nylon. The Beirut table collapsed in on itself like it was trying create a black hole in space. The wine rack turned itself into a sculpture, then firewood. We only helped. The Adirondack chairs were repainted a green so close in hue to the the lawn that we can no longer find them. They have disappeared until someone bangs their shin on one. We is all of us. We deal with our furniture.
My furniture is hiding things from me. It steals lighters and coins the most. It takes my snack foods and eats them, grinds them up for me to find as crumbs when I am looking for something important like my keys or a postcard from the President of the United States of America. My furniture is hiding things and holding me back. My couch wants me to melt into it, to spend my life absorbed by it. It wants me too comfortable to notice how pathetic and gross it has gotten. The springs give me pains in my back while I sleep so I will miss it and want to be with it all day while I am out doing things that are productive, things that could help me, change my quality of life, allow me to buy new furniture. I will have a yard sale this spring. No one will buy anything. I will live with my furniture some more.
My furniture – some of it, like that wicker Ottoman that eventually unraveled after being picked on – is likean adopted child in a loveless home. A home that wanted to love but couldn’t, never should have adopted in the first place but didn’t know any better. Furniture like a child adopted by spiders and assembled with an Allen key. A child assembled with loose bolts, with chipped paint like peeling skin. I don’t see myself like that. Only my furniture. My furniture and I have some things in common though. We both think we like warm, dry weather but have never really experienced it first-hand.
And then there’s that tiny chair from the pictures. I could never have been small enough to fit in that tiny chair. No one could. But there it is.
Will I ever have the furniture of my dreams? Furniture that is brand new every day, except when I want it worn in like an eroded mountainside? Furniture that cradles me when I want to be cradled and props me when I want to be propped? Furniture that cushions me and furniture that forces me to leave it to work things out on my own? Furniture that lies to me about the passing of time, but only in the ways I want to be lied to? I will have that furniture one day. Or something like it in blue.