I’ve said before that I’ve learned about myself recently that I’m an emotional runner. This is still true, by the way. But I’ve also learned that I’m a master avoider. The two go hand in hand, really. I mean, why would I be running if I didn’t need to avoid things? You would be amazed the things I do to avoid dealing with the things that need to be addressed. Work too much. Sleep too much. Read an impressive number of Kindle books. Go for long drives. Sit at the lake. Social media. Endless screenshots of memes. Hone my EKG reading skills. Scribble in my nerd book. The list is endless.
Today, to my list of avoidant behaviors, I added a new one: couch shopping. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it was an avoidant behavior until I was pretty committed to it. And, like most other things I’ve learned about myself, there had to be a tantrum before I reached my epiphany.
It all started yesterday. Other Half and I wanted to take the kids on a day trip to the mountains to ride around, be out of the house, take the Jeep tops off, and embrace the freedom. The only problem was, everything we planned to do in the mountains was closed— hiking Grandfather Mountain (I can hear my mom laughing from here at the thought of me hiking anything) was out because they were closing up early. Other places we didn’t get tickets, or we weren’t comfortable with the number of people who would be out. By the time we figure out we have nothing to do, we’re almost an hour from home. And there, like a sign from God, was Hickory Furniture Mart.
Last year we remodeled our downstairs, and I desperately wanted a new couch. Other Half said there was nothing wrong with our old one and eventually I let it go. I think now though, I have reached the part of my life this year where he would do almost anything to make me happy, so he agreed to look at couches. There was almost no one else in the parking lot and four whole levels of furniture stores.
I quickly learned that there is something Mary Ann hates more than antique shops— furniture shopping. It was pretty painful. Benjamin Button on the other hand, had a great time. I swear he’s a senior citizen trapped in a kid’s body. He wanted to sit on every chair, feel every fabric, comment on every color. His long-lost dream is apparently to have a red leather couch. Who knew?
Anyway, we finally found it. The King of Couches. It’s completely perfect. Soft brown leather, big pillowy cushions. Two huge ottomans that open for storage. I was in heaven. The only problem is, the monster is 12 feet long and 7 feet in depth, not to mention the height which I didn’t measure because, who cares? Benjamin Button could fit his whole body in one of the ottomans. I sent a text to Christina Yang and said, “tell me I don’t need this couch,” to which she responded, “But you do.” This is why she’s my person. Then I texted Fairy Godmother. This is where I started to realize I might be avoiding things. She responds with, “Get whatever makes you happy, but what happened?” I thought maybe I missed something, “What do you mean?” I ask. And she says, “Usually you make a big purchase when something bad happens.” Hmm…I think. Nah, I don’t think so.
When we got home we measured the den and concluded that the monster wouldn’t fit. So I decide the only real solution is to move. Other Half suggested the solution was to look at other furniture stores.
So we did. We went to a bunch of them. This time the kids stayed with Uncle Jesse. And then I found the only couch in the whole world that can compete with the Monster. It was waiting for me in Haverty’s, cream colored canvas and feather pillows, sitting 33 inches off the ground and the perfect depth for me to curl my whole body up and read a book, which is all I have ever wanted from a piece of furniture. I decided I maybe even liked Desert Island better than the Monster. I was already picturing how peaceful my living room would look with the light colored paint, soft silver rug and dark floors, all just waiting for Desert Island to be delivered. Then Other Half catches up with me.
“It’s huge,” he says. “And it’s barely 18 inches off the ground. How are we supposed to get on and off of it? And what about when your grandma comes over? Or your dad? And it’ll never stay clean. And how do we configure it? Sectionals are tricky. You really need to take detailed measurements and maybe put some tape out on the floor to outline it and make sure it looks ok. Plus there’s no way I’ll be able to keep my recliner. You know I’m not really a couch person. I sit in a chair.”
“I know,” I say. “That’s why I don’t think you should get to help pick it out. You don’t even sit on it. You sit over there in your chair.” He blinks at me slowly. “But don’t you think this should be about more than what one person wants? My chair might not even fit if we put this big thing in that room. Not to mention the dog hair and the mess the kids will make.”
This is where it all goes south. I’m not sure where the conversation took a wrong turn, but somehow I explode that Other Half always sees the negative and is a dream killer. And how I’m tired of sitting on the same style couch every single day for the past 13 years because we always buy the same couch over and over again. And how the tufts in the couch back looks like a multiparous cervix and oh by the way, I’ve had pap smears more pleasant than this shopping experience. And then I send Christina Yang a text message that says, “El Jefe says the couch is a bad idea.” She says he could always sit at the kitchen table instead. And again I say, this is why she’s my person.
We leave the store and I have a few minutes to calm down and I think. “I don’t really want a new couch.”
The thought startles me a little bit, because not ten minutes before I was willing to fight to the death for the privilege of bringing Desert Island home with me if I had to carry it on my back and tie the throw pillows to my ankles like the cans on the back of the bride’s car after a wedding. But 30 seconds after my meltdown, I think, “This is a waste of money. I don’t want a couch. I want my dad to get his liver transplant. I want my kids to be able to have a safe, fun, productive school year. I want my sister to not have to give birth with only one visitor in the room because of COVID. And since I cannot make any of these things happen by sheer force of will, I decided to buy a very big, very expensive couch.” Huh. Who knew?
We drive home and I tell El Jefe— cough, cough, I mean Other Half— that I don’t want a couch. “I know,” he says. “But it seemed to make you happy for a little while.”……………..I really don’t deserve him.
Score one for Fairy Godmother and Other Half. Zero for the master avoider. But, for the record, I still love Desert Island. And my current couch still looks like a cervix. Cervixes? Not sure what the plural is. Pictured here is one of the chairs. I didn’t take a photo of the couch, but it’s basically three in a row. And it’s OK. Because apparently a cervix is not the real problem here. My dad’s liver is. So I’ll keep the couch and take the rest of life one day at a time.