So, the new vinyl siding project at the homestead is almost complete. I'll share "before and after" photos in a few days, so that you can see how we've successfully transformed our house into something that looks like every other household in America. However, before I do that, I'm trying to wrap up my latest piece of hard-hitting photo-journalism, a charming little entry I'm sure you'll enjoy (once it's done), called "Three Little Inches."
One of the perks to having the house transformed is that we've had a huge mother-loving dumpster sitting on our front lawn for the past few months. Josie has taken advantage of this opportunity by getting rid of some useless garbage that's accumulated around the places after thirteen years of living there: you know, things like rusted lawnmowers, discarded barrels of half-eaten fish heads, ex-husbands...
Oh! Wait, just kidding about that ex-husband comment. No, she still has a use for me. It's called child support!
No...no...just kidding about that "ex-husband" comment, too. She has many, many other uses for me (aside from foot massages, which I refuse to do). Take this past Sunday, for example, when she called and said
"I've cleared out most everything I want to get rid of."
I waited for the other shoe to drop. "Except..."
"Except for our old green couch in the cellar. Can you and Corb do me a favor and move it into the dumpster?"
Dutifully, Corb and I agreed to take care of the job that afternoon, when we picked Theo up at the homestead. And, it was at that point that we discovered one small problem with the request. See, Josie had neglected to tell Theo about her plan.
"You're going to do WHAT?" Theo said when he saw us heading to the cellar. He looked as though we had been assigned the task of setting his favorite stuffed animal on fire.
"We're going to throw that ratty old green couch in the dumpster," said Corb, matter-of-factly. "Oh come on, Theo. It's in horrible shape."
How ratty was the couch? To be honest, the damn thing looks worse than Bush's presidential approval ratings. No, seriously. You know that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry tries to get rid of a couch that was peed on? Imagine that small pee stain, times 1,000. See, both of my youngest were bed wetters. They must have stained those cushions, much to our horror, for a combined total of perhaps 365 days straight. Add that to the sides, which were ripped apart by the sharp little claws of our three cats. The cushions were held together by safety pins. And, to make matters worse, the couch had been stuck in the unfinished basement for about six months, and had accumulated a healthy layer of white mold. That kind of ratty would put rats to shame.
Ah, but to Theo. See, my boy sees that couch with different eyes. To him, it's not what the couch is, it's what it was. He sees it as the couch he would watch Saturday morning cartoons on, the place where he was allowed to sleep when he couldn't crawl into Mom's bed. He sees it as the perfect set of cushions for creating a tower, and the right level of bounciness for an hour of jumping onto the floor. He sees it for all the game parties we had held on that couch, and even for the bad memories associated with it. Such as the place where he was sitting when Josie and I told him we would be separating.
Perhaps it's for that final reason that I totally empathized with Theo's reaction.
"You said you wouldn't get rid of it," he said. And it's true. When Josie had picked up her new couch, we had promised Theo that the old one would be placed down in the cellar, safe and sound. Something in his tone made me feel for other broken promises that we had been unable to live up to.
"You've got to get over it," said Corb, as we stood in the basement, looking over the couch. "This thing is in terrible shape, Theo. It's got to go!"
"I like it the way it is," said Theo, softly, but firmly.
"You what?" asked Josie, when we spoke on the phone, shortly after.
"We didn't move the couch."
"It means something to Theo," I said. "He said that we promised that we wouldn't throw it away."
"If we don't throw that away now, do you know how much it's going to cost us to throw it away later?" she asked, clearly irritated. As was Corb, who was muttering under his breath.
But I was just focusing on Theo.
All afternoon, I considered the possibilities, as I sat at my computer, playing a video game. Besides the sentimental value of the couch, what about the damage it would cause to the environment? That was the bigger issue! After all Corb and I have been doing to try to live a greener life, how can we turn around and dump a couch into some landfill. What sort of good citizens were we being? It's wasn't a sentimental thing, it was an environmental thing. I had to be green about my old green couch!
I just had to take a stand. For Theo. For the environment.
Later that afternoon, Josie dropped off Ashes at our apartment.
"Mommy," asked Theo. "When will you buy me the new Tomagachi?"
"I can't afford to, sweetie," said Josie.
He looked at her, in concern. "Why not? You promised!"
"That was before I knew about the couch," she said. "Now that I know that I have to get rid of the couch later on, and how expensive that will be, I can't afford to buy the Tomagachi for you. I have to save my money."
Theo thought about that for a moment. And then, he said:
"I'm ready to give up the couch, now."
And so, later that evening, at around nine o'clock, in the dark of the night, there we were, Corb and I, lugging that damn ratty green couch up the cellar steps. All because Theo had decided to throw away a lifetime of memories for a new Tomagachi. And there I was, thinking he was a bigger sentimentalist than his old man.
Except, when we finally had it outside, he stopped us, right before that final toss into the dumpster. He just needed a few moments, he said.
Just to say good-bye.