The Green Couch
A personal essay
The Green Couch
There’s this inexplicably liminal feeling that comes over me as I sit on my dangerously comfy green couch, sandwiched between my two best friends, as we ritualistically prepare each other to return to the dorm rooms that have painted our universes for the past four years. This feeling- this liminal reality, lives somewhere between a childhood dream, and a white picket fence. It lives between a pair of size five jazz shoes, and a beat up pair of size eight white and blue-striped converse. This feeling crawls in the creases of my toes and shoots up the back of my spine. It makes its way into my hair and loops through my massive, knotty curls. Unless I’ve straightened it, then, it clings onto my thin strands and pulls itself up like an Olympic athlete eager to be the first to ring the bell.
These couches have heard so many of our secrets over the past 10 years. They’ve heard my best friend Lydia’s heartbreak for the first time. They’ve hugged her tighter than I ever could. These two beautiful couches have heard every single one of my best friend Allison’s opinions, and they’ve supplied her with the throne she very well deserves. They are the first to laugh at her inappropriate jokes and the last to kick her out when it gets a little too late and she is just on the brink of over staying her welcome. These beautiful couches remember when I was in 8th grade and head-over- heels in puppy like with Max. These couches jumped for joy with me when I got into my first-choice college, and they caught me time and time again when it seemed to fall short. After a long semester and a hole in my heart these couches cuddled me and whispered every “goodnight,” and “I love you,” and “ let’s have another glass of wine” I could ever need. They know the sound and taste and voice of my tears. They can replicate the breaths and screams and curves of my laughter. These couches are home.
The night before I left for college I paced around my room until 3am. I was scared, and alone. I stood up, and sat down, and walked all around a home full of boxes and labels and brand new duvet covers. Everything had been packed. Everything was ready to go, except for me. My lamp glowed at the end of the hallway as I anxiously wasted hours of the night. My sleep would only bring me closer to the morning and the morning would only drive me 176 miles away from my green couches, 176 miles away from my home.
The goodbyes were disgustingly long yet couldn’t be shorter. I sat in my new room now, with a blonde girl named Julia that would share my space for the next year as I began my search for home.
Julia was tall, and knew everything about sex. She would bring back boys and the next morning she would fill me in on every unnecessary detail. Julia loved love. She yearned for it day in and day out. Julia liked a heart shattering kind of love. She loved the make up and break up of it all. She was obsessed with the game, the chase, the tears that ran down her cheeks at 2am when the boy she had sex with in the bathroom refused to look at her for the rest of the night. Julia went to the gym every morning and sometimes at night too, if we had eaten the M&M blondies at West dining hall. Home for me became sexiled nights and 6am burpees with a girl who looked in the mirror and pinched every inch of skin on her body as a reminder she would never be perfect.
Home for me became nick, a boy that I once cried over until my head was pounding and the sun cut the night sky with its bright orange smile. Home became my best friend who called herself a mermaid and brought me Hershey Kisses and a homemade painting on my 19th Birthday. Then, I found home in a tall boy with bright blue eyes and dark black hair. John was my coolest friend. He played Can Jam with me at tailgates, and drove a teeny red Porsche convertible. He watched a full three seasons of Scandal with me, and I was sure I was home because anyone who would watch Olivia Pope with me was just like my green couch. No question about it. But John didn’t hold me the way those couches held me. He didn’t laugh with me or tickle me the way those couches did. I pushed my doubt to the back of my mind because all I wanted was a home. The only difference between John and home was that home never missed my birthday. Home never begged me to look at it only to make fun of the way my brown eyes and brown skin and brown hair all stupidly matched. Home never made me feel like I was silently screaming and gasping for air only to later feed me a drug that made me so sure that I was the crazy one. Home never replace me with a blonde girl and an upgraded set of double D’s. John and I went back and forth, and off and on, and over and under every which way. My darkest days became the ones where we talked constantly only to know that the next morning, it would be as though it never happened. Just when I thought it could be over there was a lunch, or a coffee, or a Taylor Swift concert that sucked me back in for more.
The day I realized that John wasn’t home, was the day I realized no one ever could ever be home for me. I sat outside of my beautiful apartment in September and soaked in the last bits of the summer sun. I sat stunned and confused, yet not surprised at all at the headspace I seemed to find myself in for what would be the last time. I had my glasses and my spinach and my little red notebook ready. I wrote for a long time that day and when I was done, I read it back.
“ There’s a stranger inside me that I can’t wait to know. The days that I discover her are beautiful. She is strong minded, creative, and driven. The days I loser her she is anxious, heady and constantly looking for people who give her the artificial, momentary feeling of beauty. When I find her she is funny and smart and opinionated and loves to talk about politics and write in her journal for hours on end. She is caring and loving and wants to be gorgeous in more ways than one. She does not need or care for the validation of those around her to feel alive or to feel worth it. She knows she is. She finds life in the little things. She can be mad, and hurt and sad, and still be okay. Life with her is like Christmas morning and life without her is bleak. She doesn’t just dream her dreams, she chases them until they become her reality. She read a poem once her freshman year that told her ‘if you don’t love yourself, then every time you’ve said I love you it’s a lie.” She cried her eyes out because she knew it was so true. She fell in love with love. She fell in lust with love. She convinced herself that self-love came after romance. She convinced herself that the love she looked for was coming. She wasn’t sure from where but it would probably show up on her doorstep at 2am in the pouring rain with a boom box blasting “In Your Eyes.” It would come in a coffee shop or on dog beach as she laughed with her little sister and chased her German Shepard down the sand. Maybe it’d come when she least expected it, journaling about love. Her love for love made the love she lacked unbearable. But one day, She would wake up and realize that all those late nights she surfed for validation, all those times she’d answered a man that was no man at all, every time she’d fell into lust did not mean a thing. She promised to walk into love next time. She promised not to fall. Next time she loved, she would walk wide eyed and certain into love with herself.”
My tears stung the inside of my eyes and suddenly, I could see completely clearly. I closed my little red notebook. I sat outside for a long while. This was the moment I had been subconsciously waiting for since the beginning of me.
In the weeks that followed I found myself yearning for my green couches less. I didn’t have to, they always seemed to be with me. They followed me to the bank, and ran with me on the treadmill, and walked by my side down the esplanade. They followed me to the Tuesday bar, and back to my bed after I had had enough of karaoke for the night. They sat next to me in my classes and were never far behind me on line at chipotle. I had this growing sense of home that sat inside me. It was warm, and it was glowing, and no matter how hard the world tried to silence it, it never lowered its volume. I met had met my soul mate, and she was extraordinary.
After a long few days of midterms I walked home from a Thursday night filled with tequila and black booties. I contemplated what class I might be skipping the next day to sleep off the filthy hangover that I was sure to experience the next morning. I walked quickly. I wore my mom’s vintage black and white striped top from the 70s. I love this top. It made me look casual, yet edgy, perfect for the occasion. It reminded me of my mama and home cooked meals and long nights nestled up with a large blanket and a movie. My mind wandered home until it was cut off by a stare from a boy with a dark black crop of hair and a strange set of eyebrows. As I walked by I heard him mutter a few words but I couldn’t be phased, I was determined to get to late night pizza before it got too crowded. I heard the feet behind me accelerate eagerly and the boy with the strange set of eyebrows ran into my life.
He buys us margaritas and popcorn shrimp on our first date. He has just about two individual shrimp and just around 2 margaritas. Needless to say, he is a lightweight. He takes my hand on our first date and we walk down the esplanade, all I can hear in my head is my mom warning me that it’s dark out, I don’t know this man, and he could very well choose to kill me right here and now. He doesn’t. Instead, he asks me about my favorite movies, and books. He asks me if he has to go back to his place and I laugh right in his face because of course he does. He figured as much.
This love grows rapidly. This love isn’t the type of love that asks me to give up my extraordinary little soul mate that lives inside me. Instead, this love nourishes her, and never lets her go to bed with her feet uncovered because this love knows it will give her terrible little nightmares. This love isn’t a love that asks me to blow out the glowing candle inside me but instead; this love makes sure that the fire never runs out of flame. This love is patient, this love is kind, it always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
My biggest fear used to be never finding that feeling again. That feeling that my comfy green couch never fails to supply me with. I was so afraid that nothing could know me the way those green couches knew me. No one would know my secrets and fears and tears the way that those couches knew them.
Now, I have this new feeling, with my love beside me and my soul mate inside me and my comfy green couch ready to witness it for the first time. This new feeling creeps into my skin and flutters restlessly in my stomach. It makes my heart race faster than a NASCAR driver in the final moment of the cup. This new feeling is soothing, and unsure, but this new feeling isn’t so quick to give up on me. The truth about that feeling I had been searching for all this time is that I may never find it again. That feeling I felt when I was 19 and heartbroken and just needed a green couch and large brownie with vanilla ice cream may very well be gone for good. The feeling of absolute bliss and comfort with no worries or strings attached or complications, it may be lost to my younger years. What I can tell you is whatever this new feeling is, at this very moment in time can never fill that hole shaped couch in my heart. But maybe instead it can create a new space. Maybe it can fill itself up with with pumpkin cocktails and late nights with a red journal and all the cuddles and kisses and extra glasses of wine I could ever need. Maybe this space can learn the sound and taste and voice of my tears. Maybe this space can too grow to love the breaths and screams and curves of my laughter.