Originally posted March 17, 2010...
Once upon a time, two provinces away, I had two couches. In April of last year, I spent my last night in squalor, then moved my posters, books and jeans to a new home with Jon. The rest I could easily part with, as Jon and his brother owned better versions of my possessions. My bed, for instance, a blow up mattress from Canadian Tire, was no match for Jon’s big boy bed filled with actual springs and figurative promise. My tv, found the day I first moved in outside my friend Ryan’s apartment in a trash can, was easily jettisoned in favour of Jon’s much cleaner model. My couch, however, was a different story. It was a gift to my father from my grandparents when he was Big City Andy, making his way in Toronto at 22. He kept it through various apartments, his first home with my Mom, their second and third homes, and so on and so on, until it passed down to me, when I moved to Saskatoon at 22. Out of sentimentality, and my love of sitting with my feet up, I insisted on keeping it. We loaded it into a van (with my posters, books, and jeans) and moved it into our first home together. Jon also had a couch. This meant, my friends, that we owned two couches.
Being a young couple with two couches means the world is yours for the taking. We both sat more comfortably than we’ve ever sat before, he curled up on his heirloom, and me on mine, laughing joyfully at whatever was on television eleven months ago. One of us could stretch out, kick, eat, or fart without the other being the wiser. But when August rolled around and our Toronto move loomed and the cost of moving our stuff was worth considerably more than the sum of our stuff, we said goodbye to our two couch paradise, stuffed what we could into some suitcases, and moved on. This brings me to today’s dream.
Dream: To own two couches.
Goal: Achievable. Many young people, even of modest means, own more than one couch. I don’t happen to know any of them, but they’re out there.
Plan: Keep an eye on garage sales, Craigslist, and obituaries in an attempt to cheaply procure a second chance at comfort.
As August turned to September and we plonked those same suitcases down in a Days Inn by Pearson Airport, our first order of business was finding some furniture. Being the inexperienced and lazy people we are, we stopped into the first furniture store we could find, in a strip mall in Mississauga, and left several hundred dollars later. We bought a mattress and were talked into a futon. A futon, for those lucky enough to be ignorant of futons, is like a couch made by craftsmen too lazy to make a couch. The basic structure of a bench with a back is made out of wood, and a slab of heavy foam is thrown over top. The heavy foam is removable, for reasons unknown. We were hesitant to buy one but the guy sold us with: “But it also turns into a bed!” What he should have added was, “that no one will ever comfortably sleep on!” But we reasoned we might have guests one day and they could sleep there. It wasn’t much, but we didn’t have room or money for a second bed, so guests could just bloody well put up with it. The salesman added that a futon makes a fine bed; he’d slept on one for the past twenty years. I wish I had thought about that more carefully before closing the deal. Firstly, why did I assume a hunched-over, grizzled furniture salesman slept beautifully every night? And how successful was he really if he owned a furniture store in a strip mall, but couldn’t afford a real bed?
So now Jon and I sit next to each other on our futon, watching whatever passes for television in present day Toronto. We try to curl up and get comfortable, but its a little known fact that two men cannot stretch out in the same enclosed space. I don’t want to be homophobic here, but two men probably shouldn’t share a bed for that reason, either. It’s all elbows and knees and hipbones and balls. But I digress. We make do with our futon, but I do worry about our hypothetical guest. If the two of us have someone over, someone ends up sitting on a kitchen chair facing the other two on the futon, like a couples counselor.
The other day I found an ad on Craigslist. Someone was selling an L-shaped sofa that had, get this, a reclining chair on each end and a middle section that folded out into a queen size bed. Jackpot! I envisioned Jon and I reclining comfortably distant from each other, while two good friends slept between us (preferably a heterosexual couple, as per my wishes). I emailed the seller, refusing to haggle and insisting on paying full price… but he never wrote back. Maybe he sold it, maybe it was a mirage, I don’t know. Try as I might, the L-shaped dream eludes me. I’ll email again and again, and I’ll even send a link to this blog post, just so that Craig, or whomever is selling it, knows what they’ve done to me, presenting this oasis, and snatching it away.
And yet. Last weekend, Jon and I watched Where the Wild Things Are. My feet were in his lap, his arm was on my neck, my ass was under his elbow and his jaw was in my hair. We were trying to be comfortable, is my point. The movie was unexpectedly wrenching and I found myself not just sniffling, but weeping, which is not something I normally do. Jon barely had to shift a muscle to wipe away my tears. He comforted me by rubbing my feet, which were somewhere by his neck at this point, I think. I’m not sure where he was in relation to me, but his heart was in the right place.
I’m stretched out on the futon now, as it happens. I have a guest, my dear old friend Sarah, asleep in my bed. I will join her shortly, she can and will put up with it. I could sleep here, I suppose, but without Jonny, this crummy little futon just feels too big.