IN WITH THE NEW, OUT WITH THE OLD
spending money these days is conflict filled, to say the least. however, my husband and i decided that the purchase of a new couch for our living room would be both reasonable and our contribution to the drooping economy. the piece of furniture to be replaced had served us for more than 20 years, having survived bouncing children, spilled juice and, as our guest bed, more sleeping bodies than we wanted to remember. our only child having recently departed for college, we wanted to feather our empty nest with something a little less adolescent friendly-and besides, our most recent houseguest had gently mentioned something about sagging springs.
although a little anxious about spending money on an item that we did not technically need at this time, we could not avoid being influenced by the sales all around us. we checked first on castro convertibles, the manufacturer of our current sleep sofa. but castro was no longer in business.
then began a long and tedious process. we looked at, sat on and talked about nothing else. questions about mattress composition, length and height and number of pillows, and fabrics filled our minds and conversations. my husband is tall; i am short, so no seat was comfortable for both of us. he wanted something long enough to stretch out on while he watched television. i wanted something that would take up less room in our small apartment.
ultimately, we found and ordered something we both liked. then, of course, we waited. the eight-week gap did not bother us much, although we wondered what could possibly take so long. perhaps, we thought, it was being built from scratch, warehouses having disappeared along with the economic boom. two weeks before it was due to arrive, the saleswoman notified us of a further delay. like a cancelled airline flight, there was no explanation, but the couch was now scheduled to arrive three months after we ordered it.
suddenly we were faced with a question i, at least, had been avoiding. what were we going to do with the old one? i found myself surprisingly reluctant to part with it, as though all of the memories it contained would disappear as soon as it was taken out the door. deciding that the best solution was to make sure it went to a loving home, i placed an ad on craig's list.
vetting the respondents was easy. only one person responded. but she was eager to look at it, and once she had seen it, she'd buy it for the $150 i had asked.
next was the question of getting it out of our apartment. the new owner hired "a guy with a truck" to pick it up. he arrived with a strapping young partner, but none of us was prepared for the fact that the wonderful, sturdy mechanisms that had kept this sofa bed operating for so many years also made it extremely heavy. they managed, with much effort, to carry their burden to our front door, only to discover that they could not maneuver it out. "how did you get it in here, lady?" one of them demanded. i assured them that the original movers had brought it through that very door, and eventually, grunting, heaving and cursing, they got it out. only to discover that it would not, in any possible way, fit into the service elevator. "how did you get it up here, lady?" they demanded again. the service elevator operator, who had worked in the building for only a few years, insisted that there was no way that that couch had ever been brought up in the elevator. i insisted that it had. the super, also a relative newcomer, said that we would have to cut the couch in half. if i had not been so furious, i would have laughed at the idea of cutting through the metal that made up that heavy bed frame. impossible.
finally, i showed them the rectangle on the elevator ceiling that had, in the old days, been removed so that one end of the couch could slip through. "ah," said the super. "in the old days, you could have put it on top of the elevator, as well. but we're not allowed to do either of those things anymore. it's not safe. that plank there is nailed into place and can't be removed. i'd lose my job if i tried."
the only recourse, he said, was for the men to carry the load down 15 flights of stairs. and that was not dangerous? it was also expensive. they said it would cost $150. i agreed without an argument. the new couch arrived the next day, fitting easily into the elevator and through the apartment door. as we sat side by side on it that night, we toasted its welcome with glasses of wine that we were careful not to spill. my husband said that he saw this experience as representative of the next phase of our lives-we might not let go of the past easily, but hopefully we would move forward smoothly.
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