COUCH

I’m sitting on the arm of the leather couch in our family room. Its brown skin is pocked with scuffs and scars; ribbons awarded for fifteen years active service.

In the house where I grew up there was no couch. The lounge room had two armchairs and a matching ottoman. It had two in-between chairs too, used by my sister and I when we were big enough, but no sofa. The family living in this house did not sit next to each other. They didn’t do closeness.

So I’m looking with affection at the careworn covering of our family couch. Careworn. Worn through care. We’ve sat on it to watch Thomas The Tank Engine and The Terminator. In the cracks between the cushions are layers of crumbs and debris that probably support several complex ecosystems. Life on the surface filtering down, nourishing those below. I hope the microbes are happy in their microbey lives; falling in love, producing little microbes, making beds out of skin cells and sporting fields out of lost shirt buttons.

This lilliputian reverie is abruptly interrupted by the impact of my fourteen year old son, hurtling across the room and rugby-tackling me so that we both collapse backwards onto the cushions. He’s done it a thousand times before, a game we’ve played forever. A decade ago I used to have to push myself backwards to achieve the desired result—a tangle of limbs and giggles and a victory squeak from the boy as he grinned down at his vanquished Daddy. 

But he doesn’t need any help now. Almost as tall as his Mum and more than half my body weight, the moment of impact has a combined mass of 140kg. So backwards we go, thump! Ha! So loud and deep was the young fella’s triumphant shout that I did not hear the crack of splitting timber. It was only later in the evening when we were siting in a line watching a bit of TV that I noticed I was sliding forwards. Not just bad posture; the sofa had developed a pronounced tilt. Inspection revealed a fault line gaping between arm and body, the latter having subsided to floor level as if finally succumbing to years of play wrestling.

I pointed out the collapse to the others. They both stared at me, seeking to gauge my reaction. Because I am not always OK around stuff being broken or damaged. In the house of my childhood objects were supposed to last forever. Breaking things through overuse was frowned upon, even growing out of clothes viewed with suspicion. Wilful damage was a capital offence. I once hid at the top of the back yard willow for three hours after breaking a garage window playing cricket.

A kind of reverse scarring results from this insistence that things have to last. An obsession with protection stifles exploration and kills spontaneity. Scarring is the inevitable by-product of use. It’s a result of life.

I looked at the couch and at my partner and son, and smiled. It took a little effort. This couch has been good to us. It has opened its arms to a thousand cuddles, hundreds of rough-and-tumbles and we are sitting on it together now, despite the list to starboard. We continued watching tele.

Things wear out. People too. 

But love doesn’t.

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9 thoughts on “COUCH

  1. I bought my house when my kids were very young. We had a nice basement space so I set it up as a sitting area hoping to keep all of the toy crap out of the way. No one ever used it for sitting, but we used the futon for a game called “diving catch”. I’d throw a football and my kids would dive out over the futon, arms extended hoping to catch the ball before their soft landing. What a game! Ultimately, a couple of slats in the futon frame broke and we needed to find a new game.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this. I grew up with the anxiety and guilt attached to things breaking. A quite stifling feeling. A feeling that has been with me most of my adult life, but having a young family has been quite liberating. Feeling now that it’s okay if things break… it’s just what happens. Better still that things aren’t broken through misuse, but through play and learning. I’m okay with that.

    As always, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Things last if they are taken care of was the motto I grew up with and my first reaction is usually to look for someone who didn’t take care of the item correctly. Thankfully I do my speculation with my mouth closed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a loving piece Bruce.
    I’m reduced to dot points.
    Watch Tomic the Tank.
    Me breaking the couch; Mum chasing me with a saucepan (despite the exceptional tolerance of my parents).
    Charlie, aged 8, busting one of my teeth with a rugby tackle launched from the floor up onto the couch where I was sitting. (Given the superb execution, how could I be angry?)
    Thanks.

    Like

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