Sentimentality to sit on
Short of maternal embrace, there is no comfort so great as a big, cozy couch. I know this to be true.
After all, it had been while sitting atop a plastic yellow couch that I first kissed some idiot named Adam in nursery school. Every year, my parents insisted my siblings and I assemble “on the green couch” in order to receive our annual bounty of Hanukkah gifts. And whenever I called in sick to school, my mother laid the same careworn sofa with pink cotton sheets, turned on The Price is Right, and brought me my lunch on a silver platter. Bob Barker at my fingertips and Nesquik sipped through a Krazy Straw? Show me more perfect happiness. I dare you.
Such early exposure to its charms explains why tufted furniture is the creature comfort that I have missed most since leaving New York over fourteen weeks ago. More even than I pine for my hair dryer or Poland Springs or Hulu, I yearn for that hideous old couch. It has seen me at my best and accepted me at my very worst. It has forgiven unspeakable crimes. A sibling who shall rename nameless peed on it once. (You know who you are.) But happy memories and barely endured hangovers do not alone account for the degree to which I long for it. Nostalgia is only partly to blame for the dull ache.
I’ve essentially been on the move for more than three months. I’ve traveled to England, Scotland, France, Ireland, and Israel. I’ve traipsed through world-famous museums, consumed my weight in mozzarella, and found that house wine makes everything taste better. I have been caught snapping selfies in public more often than I care to admit. I’ve seized the day and YOLO’d and carpe’d every diem. The life of a functional nomad is not too shabby. In fact, it puts even the winnings of Bob Barker’s Showcase Showdown to shame. But to revel in such an itinerant existence forces certain compromises.
It turns out you cannot pack a couch in your carry-on bag. I inaugurated the 30% Rule in January. Mine can still barely fit a pillow.
Couches are neither native nor necessary to travel. Hotels and dorm rooms and hostels provide beds for sleeping and chairs for sitting. Some even offer perfunctory love seats or brocade chaises or stiff divans. But do not mistake such imitators for true couches. A chaise will not hold you in its rapturous grip. A divan will not keep you warm at night. Thank goodness. If they did, I might never have roused myself from them to see the Eiffel Tower or the Duomo or Dover Street Market.
Sofas do not motivate or inspire or galvanize. They are not exclusive and they are very probably the enemies of great adventure. But they are also irresistible. One time, I sat down on one after lunch. The next thing I knew it was two in the morning. I don’t even regret it.