The Christmas bonus she received earlier in the week was small, so really it should have been going into her shiny new savings account. But then again it was indeed Christmas, and she always liked to treat herself to something when all the other present-buying was done. The season of giving should include yourself, right?
Her first thought had been a new computer keyboard. If she was going to be a full-time researcher, she was going to need to occasionally type the letter “u” and her current one was not always reliable about that. Then she considered a new coffee pot, which sounded way more fun to shop for, especially in the fancy kitchen store downtown. She was only a block and a half away from it when the Joyful Interiors shop sign caught her eye. Noting that she had time enough on the parking meter for a short detour, she stepped inside.
Though the cool marble of kitchen islands and glass-cased side tables were enticing, her mildly-budget-focused brain always searched for a “Sale” or “Clearance” section when entering a new store. A small yellow sign told her that these items were in the back left corner, so there she went. There were bookshelves with a few scratches, an armoire with a bent drawer pull, and a couple fake plants that had seen better days. And the chair. Crossing quickly to the beautiful lounge seat, she could not help the hum of joy when she sat on the fully plumped cushion. Its label stated that it had once been a floor sample, so the wonky leg on the front right was unsurprising. The frame hold was steady though, and the diamond pattern faded through just the right shades of navy and gray to remind her of ocean storm waves. She curled into the tall back, aware how strange she looked making herself at home in the middle of a furniture store, and knew instantly that this chair was supposed to be in her life.
She ran her hands down the curved arms, and she was grasping them tightly as she laughed along with the rest of the book club about some obscure author’s attempt at metaphor. There were plates of hummus and vegetables across the coffee table, but only crumbs were left of her famous chive biscuits. The ladies were enjoying themselves in her lovely home, and she noted that after they chose the book for next month, it would be time to bring out dessert.
Her head rested back against the soft fabric, and she was cradling her firstborn. So strong and fragile at the same time, the small bundle murmured in his sleep. She hummed slow versions of rock anthems as her father had to her when she was a baby. A warmth filled her, and she wondered if the tired young father had known he’d start a tradition when he got sick of used lullabies.
Freckled fingers found the smooth silver studs outlining the edge of the chair frame, and she was talking to her partner about the deal she got on it as they chose a pattern for its reupholstering after years of wear. They laughed over the impulsive buy of a young professional, which started a long discussion on the joyful mistakes made by the ignorance of youth. She enjoyed these talks, which ebbed and flowed, dipping into deeper themes before coming back to the surface with bubbles of casual fondness.
She crisscrossed her legs like a child into the wide seat cushion. Now she was reading aloud, perhaps from a book of her own making, to a rapt audience in her small library. They cheered for the righteous, booed the villain, and echoed her joy back to her when good won over evil. Someone dear came and sat on the chair’s arm and told her how lovely the evening had turned out.
Her eyes followed the falling lines of pattern and she was heartbroken from some small tragedy, holed up in a safe place with a blanket clutched tightly to her chest. A familiar voice asked to be let into the room, but she wanted to be left alone in her chair, where she could weep in peace. She needed to crumble in on herself there before standing back up against the reality of what had happened, whatever it was that would happen.
Even with the sale markdown, the chair was a stretch against that treasured bonus. But this was an investment so it would be foolish not to purchase, really. This chair had been hers all along, right? Built for her alone. It had just taken them some time to find one another, like a set of imminent lovers who must mature and grow in preparation of their fated meeting. Choice made, fate sealed, she did not register the older couple admiring the mahogany table a mere foot away, or hear the cash register ding through a set of jade bookends. She was cuddled somewhere in a sunroom, in a house not yet built, listening to someone shuffle around in a kitchen years away.
Foretaste (noun): A sample or suggestion of something that lies ahead.
So I have this chair. Well actually, I have two of them. They didn’t come from a small boutique downtown, but a large furniture warehouse in a city pretty much made of large furniture warehouses. But I did close my eyes when I first sat in it and knew that this chair and I were destined for one another. After fixing up that wobbly right leg and enjoying my comfy throne for a full year, I found its match and they now happily sit together in my small living room.
When I first sat down in this chair several years ago, I made a few notes about what a lovely story that magical feeling would make. I found those notes today while searching for inspiration, and decided to find a word to match it. Is this cheating my own system, going backwards? After discovering foretaste, the rest of the tale simply fell into place. It got me thinking about cause and effect, and of course the butterfly wing that can create a storm. There are little choices we make that echo back to us in ways we can’t imagine quite as vividly as our little shopper did in today’s story. but certainly in a way that imprints upon us. My memories of these chairs don’t match the ones above, but I can tell you I sat and read my favorite stories in them. I cried through a tough breakup curled up in one. I had my first solo conversation with the lovely lady that would become my sister-in-law as she sat in one, with my cat sitting on the back cushion batting at her hair. My boyfriend and helpful coworker fought over who would lift these heavy things up to my new third floor apartment while my father quietly took one and went up the stairs on the kind of long tiring day only loved ones will tolerate. Each one of these moments help to charter my experience, and therefore who I am. These things we collect and thrust value upon can give us glimpses of who we’ll be, and where we are going- like a little sample of our futures, an appetizer for the next era.
I don’t think when I first sat in my coveted blue chair on a shopping trip with my parents in a country town that I knew I’d set it down in a matching blue apartment of my own in a busy city. But I did know I was going places, and that I’d want a comfy place to sit and admire all the work I’d done to get to wherever those places would be, are still going to be.
I’m a little self-concious about how short this word’s story is. However, I already have plans for revisiting this chair and it’s owner in other stories to come, so we’re all going to have to consider this an introduction. Almost like a… suggestion of something that lies ahead (see what I did there?).
So with that said, on this quiet Sunday evening following a lovely sunny day, I think I will make a cup of tea, and go sit in my chair.
Here’s to a lovely, word-filled week 🙂