Where I’m Reading: The Brown Corduroy Couch

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In the three years since my friend Abby gave me her couch, she moved four times, changed jobs twice, became engaged, got married, and gave birth. During that same time frame, I didn’t move, married no one, popped out zero babies, and adopted one cat. My accomplishments happened on a smaller scale. I took four improv classes, ran my first 5k, drank countless cups of coffee, got up the nerve to try stand up comedy, watched every episode of Friday Night Lights, and read 78 books, most of them while sprawled out on that couch.

It’s the sort of couch that’s perfect for napping but terrible for sleeping. For ten minutes, I
could drift off in a comfortable cloud, but waking up an hour later would leave me groggy and stiff-necked. It can be allergy-inducing, so I try to cover in a sheet to keep my sneezing down. Hiding its identity works as well as my umbrella does during torrential downpour.

It’s not the same couch as when Abby gave it to me. My cat, Harold, claimed the back left side as his favorite sleeping spot. I found it so adorable the first time I saw him curled up like a cinnamon roll. He spent most of the first two weeks hiding under my bed and I was delighted to see him feeling comfortable in his new home. It wasn’t as cute months later when the back of the couch was crushed down after hours of cat naps. I used to set books and hangers on the squashed pillow to discourage him until it became clear that they would end up knocked off anyway. I’ve accepted its asymmetries the same way I’ve accepted my own.

harold2Despite its flaws, I enjoy this couch for being the first one which is all my own, like the cheap apartment that houses us. Sometimes I sit upside down, my legs hanging off the back and my hair dangling toward the floor, just because I can. I read much of Susan Orlean’s Saturday Night on my Kindle that way. I dropped more than one paperback on my face; the Kindle gives me an upper hand on gravity. Other times, I let my legs dangle off the arm and kick them to a beat. One of my favorite things is finishing a book, closing it with a definitive slam, setting it on the coffee table in front of me, and curling up to think about it for a while until a nap sets in.

Opening the window on the opposite wall lets in more than breezes. One of my neighbors in a house across the street plays the trumpet. Never any particular song or melody, just a cacophony of brass notes. I’m not sure if he or she is giving lessons or only messing around, but it makes my life feel more dramatic, even if I’m lying on my back, making my way through Tina Brown’s The Diana Chronicles (so fascinating). The last place I lived had neighbors who played mandolins on their porch after sundown.

Mysterious musical neighbors are the best.

I’m in the process of planning a move from Pittsburgh to New York. It’s no baby, but it’s still a big change. The couch will most likely not make the move with me, nor will many of my possessions. This alone is a shake up for me, the girl who keeps everything. The kind of sentimental person who already mourns what they’ll leave behind before they’re gone. This time, I feel content about it, excited with new possibilities, and okay with saying goodbye. I’ll miss my couch when the time comes, but until then, I think I need another nap.


Andrea Laurion is a writer and performer from Pittsburgh, with essays and humor writing appearing in the Washington Post, The Hairpin, The Billfold, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Neutrons Protons, and The Toast, among others. She's on Twitter, like everyone else: @andrealaurion. More from this author →