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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Moving Furniture

On the night before my dad's funeral, Hurricane Sandy came ashore, with furious wind gusts and drenching rains. After the worst of the storm had passed, my husband and I went around the house assessing the damage, starting in the basement where we had taken shelter, and working our way upstairs, where we spotted water damage in the two guest rooms that lied underneath our dormer windows. It was 2am, but we quickly went into action, removing all of the contents of both rooms into the hallway and into our bedroom. One room had become a dumping ground for contents from the bachelorette pad that I had before we were married, as well as all of the odds and ends from past vacations, including dusty guide books and maps, and old music scores and photography books. I laughed at the absurdity of it all - emptying out a room I'd scarecly paid attention to on the eve of my father's funeral, but it all made sense, somehow.

I'd often taken to moving furniture around. From the time I was a little girl, I often felt the need for spacial realignment. I started out small, relocating the white quilted hamper that held my grandmother's crocheted handiwork, and my stuffed animal collection, from just behind my bedroom door to a spot in front of the window. This move would, of course, necessitate the move of my rocking chair away from the window and into the corner to the right of the window. And, because the bed and the dresser were stationary in my space plan, that meant that the rocking chair, which had been facing the side of the bed when it was in front of the window, would now have to face the door, which was a perfect diagonal.

By the time I got to college, my dorm room reconfiguration seemed to coincide with midterms and finals, and it continued at that pace through graduate school, with some additional turns after a couple of bad break-ups (heck, it beat gulping down a pint of ice cream:). After grad school, my need for space reconfiguration was synced to the seasons, and since I was living in a large studio apartment with hardwood floors, it was like conducting my life in a black box theatre where I was the cast, crew, director, and stage manager. Every time my parents would visit, they'd remark about what was different, and lend their own suggestions for future furniture remixes.

When I got married and moved into our home, I found out that not everyone likes coming home to a completely altered space. There are people in this world who, apparently, like things to stay in their place. Oh, I tried - boy, did I try! But, all that it got me was a sore back and the realization that married people furniture is far heavier than single lady furniture! It also got me into endless discussions as to why the furniture needed to be moved in the first place. Apparently, my answer - "because I felt like moving it" - was not acceptable, nor did it meet the rigorous standards of logic set forth by my husband, but it does follow the standard for emotional logic.

Moving things around changes so much - it's like walking into a new space, or making fresh discoveries about the space in which you live for 365 days of the year. When I would come back to my apartment after a day of moving around the furniture, it was like seeing my home anew, like stepping off of the plane in a new country. But, there is also something much deeper at play. Moving a chair from the window to the wall is creativity on a small scale. It is creativity that is, literally, bounded by the walls of the room. This is creativity with rules, with mental training wheels, and I had, over the years, become too scared to perform even this minimally risky task.  Standing there, in the hallway on the night before Dad's funeral, I was moving furniture and I was smiling that in the midst of losing Dad, that somehow, through some divine intervention, my father had helped me find a piece of myself that I had buried.

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