I hate my sofa.
I hate it because it’s brown.
I wanted neutral, but neutral is kind of impractical with small children and animals, a propensity towards spillage and questionable housekeeping skills, and brown seemed just like neutral PLUS. Only now I just have a massive muddy Thing in my living room, precisely the colour that all other colours go when they give up both hope and integrity.
I hate it because it’s the same ubiquitous brown Dfs sofa that everyone has. And I don’t like to think I’m like everyone else, nobody does, but I’m afraid that I am, and so is everyone else.
I hate it because it’s seen FAR better days, and one of the old decrepit cats weed on it, A LOT, and it cost a fortune to clean it, 3 times, and the velvety channels are all flattened down and thinned out and don’t feel nice anymore, and if I’m honest when one of the children has been sitting on one of the cushions and made it warm, you can still smell cat wee out of the corner of your nose.
I hate it because it’s uncomfortable and I’m small and it’s big and I can’t put my feet on the ground, and I’m old and curling in the corner angled towards the telly puts my back out, and also pushes the seat cushion out, and it constantly needs pushing back in which involves climbing off the sofa and HEAVING, which I hate, and if I don’t do this the kids jump off the edge – but it’s not really an edge it’s just cushion with nothing underneath it – so they fall and cry.
I hate it because it’s a symbol of my old life. We bought it in preparation for the Small Small, so we could all sit in one place and be a Family, and we never were, and he knew, and it turns out sofas can’t make families or fix relationships.
I hate it because when he moved out he set himself up with shiny new things nicer than the stuff we had when we were together, and without the cat wee and connotations, and then told me what a noble hero he was to let me have everything while he walked away with nothing, but nothing feels to me rather like a fresh start, and that’s something pretty big, though maybe not as big as the ubiquitous smelly brown sofa.
I hate it because the kids love jumping round the corner bit, and it’s so huge and brown it’s become a giant rock in their lives, anchoring them, and with all the changes and the moving houses when I float the idea that it might not fit in our new, smaller living room, there are tears, and there is no point crying over brown sofas, and it’s the least I can do for them in terms of basic continuity, so I will have to keep it if I can, and have nothing in my living room but the ubiquitous smelly brown sofa because there will be no space for anything else, possibly even people.
But most of all I hate it because I get stuck in it.
The children are in bed and I’ve done the jobs, and sorted the Stuff, and all I want is to sit down for five minutes to not think and not do, but it’s never as relaxing or comfortable as I want or expect, despite daily experience, and suddenly it’s 10 o’clock, and I know I need to turn off the lights and lock the doors and go upstairs, but the thought of having to do those things and then having to brush my teeth and wash my face and check on the children and take my pills and put my pyjamas on is suddenly so BIG – bigger even than the sofa – that I am stuck in it and I cannot move and it won’t let me go.
Sometimes I try and cheat it, and do my teeth and face and pjs before I come back downstairs, so it’s not all waiting at the end and the sofa will have less pull and power over me, but this doesn’t always help, and I still get stuck.
And as I sit in it’s faded, lumpy, cloying embrace, I think that I could just stay here, and there is really nothing to move for, and who would care if I just sat here all night, and really, what’s the damn point anyway?
And then the cat walks in.
A new, continent cat.
A cat exactly the same shade as the sofa – and with the same capricious temperament. She is grumpy, and vicious, frequently attacks me and the children, and is only made palatable to them because I do her voice as a Russian spy, and excuse her assaults as ‘training’ them and ‘hardening them up’ to be future spies, and the only reason I put up with her is that she helps me beat the sofa.
She comes and sits on my lap, purrs like a tractor, and then bites me, and repeats until I get up, when – plurping insistently – she physically leads me from the sofa to the kitchen with all the air of a vengeful and self-absorbed Lassie, where she prances invitingly around the bowls of cat food.
She is what gets me off the sofa, and I do not know what I’d do without her.
Often I find that I am jealous of her sense of purpose. She always knows where she’s going, what she’s doing, has ultimate confidence in her plans, and abandons herself to them – even her attack and napping plans – with uncompromising zest. The Sofa Trap is not a thing for a cat. They don’t get stuck. And if they do they pretend it was all part of their grand scheme, they were doing the fireman a freaking FAVOUR, don’t you know, and they basically just OWN it.
I don’t own anything. (Apart from a ubiquitous smelly brown sofa, obviously).
Now the good news is, the cat will be coming along to the new house with the sofa.
The bad news is, that it might not be the sofa that’s the problem…
You see, it occurs to me that maybe the sofa ISN’T an albatross around my neck, holding me down. Maybe I am.
I’ve pinned a lot on MY fresh start, my move. And I suppose what I’m really saying is that I’m afraid bringing along the old, smelly, sticky (literally and figuratively) sofa will contaminate it.
But I am even more afraid of bringing the same old me along.
The one that gets stuck.
The one who can’t even decide to get up and go to bed.
The one that has to borrow purpose from a punitive pussycat.
The one who mucked up the old life in the first place.
The one I don’t know if I can trust to get it right this time around.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s not the sofa I hate at all.
But then I remember it’s uncomfortable and ugly and smelly, so maybe it is.