The house where I live belonged to my husband before we met. When I moved in, we went through an awkward period of adjustment, since both of us were adults with complete sets of furniture, dishes, and the like. It’s not a big house, and it took a lot of shedding of personal belongings before we even came close to feeling like everything fit.
I decided that, although the house was small, it would feel big to me if I just pretended that it was a house at the beach. My husband has indulged me in my fantasy, and when we did some work on the first floor and kitchen, we gave everything a beach-y feel. I set up the living room furniture to face into a corner of windows that look out on our neighborhood. In my mind’s eye you could sit on the couch and look out at the ocean. In fact, it was more a nook, of sorts, centered around the television. I tucked my big comfy chair right where I could get away from it all. It was my quiet place, and I loved it.
Recently my husband made noises about rearranging the living room furniture. I knew it was time to let him have a chance to do things his way, but I tried to stall. “Where would you put the television?” I asked. And, at least for a while, that would stop him as he looked at tables, outlets, wiring, and so on. But one day, he was ready.
“We could put the television on the wall,” he announced. Then we went to Best Buy and bought a rather large, flat-screen tv.
That was Saturday. Delivery was scheduled for Wednesday. On Monday I came home from work and my entire family was moving furniture. My nook was gone. The entire area had been opened up into an enormous L-shape, and my comfy chair, MY chair, had become the prime television-watching chair.
I didn’t react well. I cried. I went and sat out front and pretended to check my email. I didn’t know which was worse—that my beloved beach nook was gone, or that absolutely no one in my family understood how I felt.
“I knew things were going to change,” I sniffled. “I just thought I was going to get to be a part of it. I thought I was going to have a voice.”
And then it hit me.
Is this how people feel who came to Columbia at the beginning? Village Center courtyards ripped open to provide views to the street, buildings that have nostalgic significance re-purposed into grocery stores: why don’t I get to have a voice?
It made me think.
In the meantime, my chair has been converted into everyone’s favorite tv chair, but if I tuck myself into the far corner of the couch, it almost feels the same. And when I come home for lunch, I have my chair all to myself and I pretend I am looking out at the ocean.