I picked up six free chairs the other day. Amazing, what the back of a Toyota Matrix can hold, when the kids aren’t in. Chairs have been a burr in this household for a number of years, and we’ve cycled through a number of incarnations of castoffs, supplemented with a great deal of glue. A shocking number have ended up permanently relegated to the basement. But these chairs, I believe, will be here to stay for some time. They’re hard-used, fully broken with the kind of grime around the edge that fits in here, from hands like ours, dirty and calloused and into all kinds of things.
I took the smallest chair, the one the giver (also a writer) preferred, and set it at my desk. The chair’s well-made, well-used, and infinitely appreciated by me. Not to mention, I didn’t have to outlay any cash.
Sweeping under the kitchen table tonight, I remembered being a teenager and wandering through the adult section of the public library. I found all kinds of gems in those stacks, but a particular one was Salinger’s Nine Stories, stories I’ve read over, and over, through so many phases of my life. These chairs reminded me of De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period, a koan of a story (aren’t these all?) ending with a mystical experience involving a mannikin. At the story’s end, in exasperation perhaps, the main character takes a chair up to his room. The house’s owners are Japanese, and the bedroom lacks a chair. I’m reminded of this story at times, when I can’t seem to get it together to just bring a chair up to a room, to just do an apparently simple thing.
I remind myself: do the simple thing. The harder things are hard enough. Early this morning, while the creamy moon was sailing over the house and the children were still sleeping, I was at my desk with my pages and pages of sentences. I thought, This is hard, but do something harder, write what I’d least expect, and I leaned over the page.
… the letters seemed to write themselves. It may have had something to do with the fact that, before sitting down to write, I’d brought a chair up from downstairs.