Long, long ago, when we first moved from the heady heights of our 4th floor apartment in Dublin 2 to a rather more serious semi-detached house in Swords, we discovered the joys of flooring and dishwashers and spending Saturday afternoons looking at bathroom tiles. We were catapulted from city centre easy living to adulting hard, long before adulting was even a thing. And of course along with all the other grown-up purchases, we needed a couch. We chose a cheerful cherry red one and settled in to wait the 12 weeks it would take to arrive – which meant 12 long weeks sitting on sun loungers in the sitting room. So when the cherry red couch arrived, there was much celebrating. Suddenly, Tuesday nights watching Lost and Desperate Housewives were good again. Friday night’s Big Brother was much, much better viewed from a couch than an uncomfortable sun lounger. And flaking out on Sunday mornings after late Saturday nights was greatly improved.
When we moved southside, we brought our cherry red couch with us, and we sat on it when we toasted our new home that night. It was also where we sat when I told my husband my big news one night in January 2007 – that we were going to be parents. It was my refuge when I came home from work feeling sick and tired, able to do nothing more than collapse on the couch and watch Coronation Street. It was where we were when I phoned Holles Street after work one evening to say I thought my waters had broken, a few weeks earlier than expected. And it was where I stayed, for weeks and weeks, feeding my newborn baby and wondering if I was getting anything right.
It’s where I sorted tiny pink outfits that were too small for my very punctual on-her-due-date second baby – thinking to myself that I might need them, because I was definitely doing this again. And it’s where I lay, timing contractions, as I waited for baby number three to make his way into the world.
It’s where I held my first junior infant when she cried as though her heart would break, sure that school wasn’t for her and she’d never fit in. It’s where I nursed my middle child when she was sick last year and missed our New Year’s Eve dinner. It’s where I read stories to my small boy, to help him unwind after a day at his still unfamiliar new school.
It’s where I half-sit, half-lie every night when I finally finish work, side-by-side with my husband, as we wonder what to watch now that Narcos is over.
But 13 years in, the couch had become frayed at the edges and sun bleached in parts. It was ready to be replaced. And I thought I was ready too, but as departure date drew near, I found myself remembering everything we’ve done in the 13 years since it arrived, and feeling very sentimental about saying goodbye to this cornerstone of our sitting room – more than that, a slightly battered, well-worn diary of our family life.
I found myself welling up when the man with the van came to take it away – and the two girls were in floods of tears. I don’t know why we’re all so attached to it – maybe it’s the memories, or maybe it’s just because it’s just a good place to be. For the kids, it’s where they go after a long day of school and homework, to chill out and watch TV. For us, it’s exactly the same – imagining collapsing into it with TV or wine or cake or Facebook or an actual book is what keeps me going towards the end the evening. And it’s where all of us bunch together on rainy Sunday afternoons or cosy Friday nights.
And of course it’s ridiculous – it’s an inanimate piece of furniture – but on its last few days here, it stirred up a whole host of memories, and I wondered if I could have lived with the sun bleached cushions and frayed edges just a little bit longer.
I’m also wondering what possessed me to go from cherry red to duck-egg blue. But that’s not here yet. For now, we’re back on the sun loungers. I miss my couch.