Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Life of Furniture

I am typing this sitting at our FIRST EVER REAL COMPUTER DESK. Not a bookcase with computer pieces precariously balanced, not a writing desk with monitor shoehorned into a corner, not a table. This is the sort of desk that actually has cut-outs in the back for cords, and in the back of shelves for cords to go between them. It even has doors - close them, and it looks like an armoire. It's beautiful. I love it.
Until yesterday, it was holding my friends' daughter's computer and ceramic dragons. But Squee, as she is called, got a laptop, and no longer needed the very large piece of furniture. We, on the other hand, NEEDED this very large piece of furniture. So we traded her some modular shelving for it. She has shelves to hold her dragons, as she sprawls in bed with her laptop. We have a desk for our computer that was actually meant for holding such a thing.
This desk is one of those pressed-board things you buy in a box, and for being pressed-board out of a box, it has weathered remarkably well. Squee's mother Alley told me, when I was squealing about having our first ever computer desk, that it was also the first piece of furniture SHE had ever bought new, making it special twice over. Her paycheck was $125, the desk cost $122, as the story goes. It's been assembled in her bedroom, disassembled completely to be moved by car to her apartment, reassembled in Squee's room, disassembled completely once again to come by car to our house, and has survived all that most excellently. The next time it moves will be in an actual moving van - we put in some nails when we reassembled it. Not because it needed them, but because once we had finally got all of the shelves where they went, we didn't want anything to shift while we moved it upright to put on the top. The top was what would hold the sides together and keep the shelves from shifting, it was a matter of holding everything together long enough to get it on! But now it's in place, in our family room, with chaos surrounding it from all the upheaval of furniture moving - still with some tiny stickers on the inside of the right door.
The same night that we brought the desk here, I took Squee to Lowe's to buy paint for the shelving we'd given her. Two sections of it need to be sanded before they would take paint, but the top part I had painted beforehand, so we got a can of spraypaint and set to.
Those shelves also had a story - I rescued them from sitting by our church's garage. They had been there a couple months, rained on, collected leaves, etc., and so one morning on the way to my car after church, I looked them over. Decent shape, for what the materials were and how long they'd been exposed to the elements. Someone had taken that fake wood wallboard, like you see in houses built in the sixties and seventies, and used it as the sides and back with particle board for shelves - the wallboard was chipping and warped, but overall it was still holding together. I walked back into church, found a parish council member to ask, and was told that probably no one wanted it if it was sitting out, and it was just a shelf someone had put together to hold pamphlets and bulletins long ago when the church was first built.
Well, that was a provenance that I, the history nut, could not resist. I dumped out the leaves, put it in the trunk, and took it home. It was begging for paint, so I obliged, but color mixing is not my forte, and my golden tan turned out light pink. It got pinker the more I tried to make it brown, so I gave up and had pink shelves on my counter in the kitchen. Then I had pink shelves in the family room. Then I gave pink shelves to Squee, in return for her mother's first piece of non-hand-me-down furniture!
Squee is not a "pink" sort of girl. Hence the trip to Lowe's, and the purchase of BLACK spraypaint. But to cover evenly and completely with spraypaint requires more experience than she has, and so her first few passes yielded a mottled effect. She contemplated it for a few seconds, pronounced it pink camoflage, and approved. Being an artistic sort, she then had great fun giving the whole thing a sort of scorched, fire-damaged look, which I must admit looks pretty cool. Her artistic endeavors have found a new medium.
I was thinking, as I watched her personalize the old church bulletin shelf, that all around us are pieces of furniture which have a story. Our computer desk may go to college with Kittyboy if we can take good care of it, adding another chapter to the story that begins with "Your Aunt Alley spent her whole paycheck on this many, many years ago..." The wallboard shelves that someone cobbled together for church bulletins a couple decades or more ago have held dishes, plants, and now a collection of dragons, with a mottled pink-and-black paint scheme. And what will the next adolescant whim color it? No one knows.


Pres. Kathy said...

How exciting!!! Enjoy!

Mimi said...

I'm with Presbytera - Enoy!