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Letting Go

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

It's big, badly faded, and purple. But I love it. And I have loved it – for nearly 23 years.

Not only that, it has a curved frame, something I've never seen on any other sofa. A curved line is my all-time favorite design element – I imagine that somewhere on the road to infinity, the two ends meet.

What a perfect setting for an intimate conversation or convivial imbibing, both of which have happened many times on this hulking piece of furniture.

There's no poetry in that description because the time has come for me to part with my beloved, bespoke, beautiful sofa – the one that arrived too late for my mother's last Thanksgiving, the one my purple-loving older daughter thought was selected just for her.

This is the time of year when we're warned about the dangers of consumerism and greed, but I take real joy in owning things that mean something to me. And this is one of them.

So letting go has been a bit of an ordeal. Covering up stains with arm covers, adding pillows to brighten it up, turning the most faded sections to the wall.

But now it's time. Frankly, I was forced into that realization. I bought a new sofa that wouldn't fit where I had planned to put it. So I did the practical thing and put it where it did fit: in the space occupied by my favorite piece of furniture.

It's funny the way the things we own take on significance. Not only for their owners, but for the witnesses of that ownership.

The novelist and journalist Joan Didion died almost a year ago of Parkinson's at the age of 87. Some of the things she owned – art, books, china, personal items – were recently sold at auction.

Sunglasses loomed large as part of Didion's image – her brand – so her Celine Faux Tortoiseshells were not only iconic, but incantations of her spirit – who she was.

“We want to walk among her things, to see how it feels to be in the presence of her presence,” Roxana Robinson wrote of the auction in The New Yorker.

Auctioneers estimated that Didion's sunglasses would go for between $400 and $800. But someone apparently really wanted them. Winning bid: $2,700. Robinson theorized that for the new owner, Didion was somehow still accessible via the sunglasses.

Now that my sofa is gone, I will have to work harder to conjure all the memories that found a cozy home in those deep cushions. And I will miss the way those memories were so neatly held in that one big, faded purple object.


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