Year To Live Project: Couchphobia
April 21, 2016 – Santa Fe, NM
I frequently get asked where I’m going to end up settling down when the Year To Live Project is complete come January 1, 2017 and my year of travel concludes. It’s a light-hearted question subject to playful answers. Where to live? Where to settle down for the next phase of life? Come back to Santa Fe? Return to Santa Barbara? Or find another place named after a saint and make that home? I let my imagination run riot and play with the limitless options the world’s geography holds.
This game is a fun one, as there are so many breathtaking places to potentially call home. Instagram fills my head with locations that captivate – blue water, green mountains, natural beauty. This is a cause for joy, for excitement and pleasure at the possibilities.
What wakes me up in the middle of the night with a start and in a cold sweat is the idea of having to buy a new couch. That shit’s terrifying.
Squishy & Loved
I had a couch. It was brown and squishy and I loved it. I logged hundreds of hours on that couch blissfully watching Game of Thrones, 24, and House of Cards. My dog, Lucas, and I cuddled up on it under a blanket and let many a sleepy Sunday morning lazily pass before us. And each morning, the hurried thumping of his tail against the couch cushions greeted me as I stumbled from my bedroom in search of caffeine. The sound let me know my nightly command — “Bedtime, dude, stay off the fucking couch” — had been ignored yet again. I smiled at the sound and believed everything would always be okay.
I wrote blog posts perched on the edge of my beautiful brown couch and ate the majority of my meals there. It was my office and my nap station. My ex-wife and I consummated many an evening on its various angles. Together, we had shared our hopes, dreams, fears, and future family plans while being held in its plush arms. We took turns giving each other massages for hours before bed. It was my couch; it was our couch. I paid for it. I broke it in. I even created an indent where my butt had worn down the firmness of the cushion, officially making it mine.
I played with my ex-wife’s two young nieces on that couch, throwing them against a stack of pillows over and over. “Again, again!” they yelled each time after the thud of their tiny bodies collided with the fluffy barrier we had created. “Again Uncle Trophy, again!” they’d beckon. I loved those little girls with all my heart. They were pint-sized explosions of blonde curled laughter and joy. I got to check the “Yes, I’ve changed my first diaper” box after one of them decimated her Huggies Little Snuggler with a smile and an, “I pooped, I pooped!” They gave me faith that having a daughter wouldn’t be the end of the world.
The three of us made forts with the cushions creating foreign lands where they had to escape the evil bald ogre. “Why is your hair broken?” they’d ask as we watched Frozen together in a pile of cuddles. My couch was the scene of imagination, creativity, and love. It was mine, and I adored it to no end. And then one day I woke up and it was gone, as were they. As were they.
You Get Used To It
I’m not ready for a new home, but I will be soon. It’s cool to think about shaking people’s hands and saying, “Hi, I’m Traver. I just moved in down the street. It sure is lovely here.” It’s like a scene from a happy movie set in the ‘burbs. That sounds nice. That’s safe. I’m ready for that, but I’m not ready for a new couch.
You can move from homes. You can relocate to an entirely new coast or country in forty-eight hours if you need to. All it takes is a credit card, a plane ticket, and a moving company and unceremoniously you can be “new to town.” Easy-peasy. A couch, on the other hand, that’s commitment.
Thankfully, the condo I lived in while renting a room in Santa Fe was couch-less. Apparently the one here had been thrown out a few weeks before I arrived and for that I was grateful. I didn’t want to get comfortable here. I didn’t want to find a place where my butt felt at home again and then have to extricate myself once again. I didn’t want to miss that one special spot where I could come home after a hard day and plop myself down.
That’s the thing about comfort — you get used to it. It starts to feel good. It becomes the place you want to be more than anywhere else. But then the law of impermanence feels the winds of change upon her cheek and moves you along. She takes your comfy spot and gives it to someone else. Sure, you remember it. Sure, there’s an imprinting on your soul similar to the one I left on my old couch, but memory is no match for the real thing.
Tail Smacks & Shit Eating Grins
Before I started on my year of travel, while I was still living on my own in a new studio and trying to figure out what to do next, I bought a used couch. It wasn’t like my old one. It didn’t feel right. It did the job that was asked of it, but I judged it unfairly. It wasn’t my new couch’s fault that while I lay on it I dreamed of its predecessor. It was there to fill a space and hold me while I recovered. To look the other way at the endless pints of Ben & Jerry’s, to catch my tears, and to perk its head up with surprise when my laugh came back. Even though the sound wasn’t the same, I can still hear Lucas stretch himself out and smack his tail on that new couch during my weeks of shared custody. The stumble to the kitchen in search of caffeine was much shorter now, but the tail smacking smile had grown.
I’m grateful that temporary couch was there and I’m grateful it’s gone. I could only see it as a reminder of what is lost, not what is yet to be found. There is going to be a new couch, I can feel it. It’s out there somewhere, maybe forgotten about, probably wrapped in plastic thinking no one will ever love her. But I will. I’ll love the shit out of that couch. I’ll die for it, kill for it even. I’ll bounce up and down on it the next time the Giants win the Superbowl. I’ll spend countless hours grateful it’s there, grateful my butt has somewhere to call home, grateful for all the ways it’s going to help me heal, help me grow, and help me rebuild my family.
But she’s out there, hopefully looking for me too – because make no mistake about it – when this is all said and done it is most certainly going to be read as comeback story.
There’s going to be a new couch. Some days I can even picture it, but then it goes away, out of my conscious grasp. I need to let go of the fear that she’s going to enter my life but with then whisper in my ear, “Don’t get too comfortable sitting here, my friend. For if you dare, tomorrow you’ll awaken and I’ll be gone…”
Cheers from the darkness,