The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 16, 2010



What do you do when you get bored? Some people travel; some people shop; some people eat, but I, I take the road less traveled by – I rearrange furniture.

I can trace this boredom remedy back to my early teen years, when suddenly I took a notion to move all the guest room furniture, which originally came from a summer place in Wisconsin, into my room, and send my French Provincial bedroom set to live in the guest room. It took me a whole day, but I accomplished the changeover all by myself, to my great satisfaction and my mother’s chagrin. “What do you want with your grandmother’s bureaus from Lake Geneva?” she asked, truly puzzled, and all I could answer as I transferred my clothes to the deep drawers of the inlaid wooden dresser was, “This furniture is much more like me.” For the first time I experienced a space that was completely under my whim and control, pretty heady stuff for a 14 year old, and I have never forgotten that feeling.

My mother shouldn’t have been too shocked. I learned the technique from her. She was more of a seasonal switcher: in the fall, the sofa had to be moved to face the fireplace; in the spring, the living room furniture moved around to make the most of the many windows. She also had an advantage over me – slipcovers. When I came home from school to find that pink chintz had taken over the living room, it meant that spring had arrived at last. Some people wait for the redwing blackbirds; I waited for the pink chintz.

I really came into my own when my husband and I moved into our first home. Oh, the possibilities and, thank heavens, my husband is a very patient man. But my occasional battles with boredom did not always sit well with everyone. For a few years, I had to curtail my “projects,” as I came to call them, because we had a blind Boston Terrier living with us. Punch was a trooper at getting around the house on her own, but occasionally a scene would play out like this: a loud thump and the scrambling of toenails on wooden floor can be heard upstairs; my husband and I both look up puzzled; he asks me, “have you moved anything in our room?” Light dawns over Marblehead, “Oh dear, the armchair is on the other side of the room.” We both rush up to find a confused terrier trying to figure out how she could lose an entire chair.

My children didn’t fare any better. When my daughter was two, I moved her crib and her dresser around so she could have a little play space with a table. When I brought her in to show her my handiwork, she burst into wordless tears and wouldn’t stop until I had put everything back the way it was. When I moved my son’s bed to another wall when he was seven, I came up to say goodnight to him and found him lying in the bed with the covers up to his chin, staring out at me like Haley Joel Osment in the movie “The Sixth Sense.” “Everything is different,” he whispered, his eyes round as saucers. Next morning, he and I moved his bed back to its original position and he launched himself onto it with a deep, contented sigh. Obviously, this predeliction for rearrangement was not passed along genetically. So I learned my lesson: don’t mess with someone else’s territory.

As my nest has emptied, my territory has expanded. A guest room, a study, the possibilities seem endless. Recently, I moved our dining room into our living room. Why do I do it? I’ll be honest – I love discovering new things about my home. When I move one of the armchairs in our living room, I not only create a new comfy corner for reading, but I also find a new vista to enjoy. I look up from my book in the late afternoon, gazing out a window that doesn’t usually get my attention, and I become entranced by the lacework of leaf shadow cast by our lilacs. When I move a bookcase, I get the pleasure of meeting our carefully collected books again, each one offering up its own precious memory. I learned long ago: I don’t need to travel; my world is here and there are many ways to rediscover it. All it takes is a strong back and, occasionally, a little help from my very patient husband. ∆

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