The chair


It was love at first sight, really.

I was wandering through a vintage store in Kansas City when it caught my eye. I made a beeline for it, and bought it the same day. It made no sense – because how would I ever get it back to Seattle?

It didn’t matter. I didn’t care. The chair was made for me.

That was the spring of 2004, and it wouldn’t be until the summer of 2005 that I would drive nearly 2,000 miles from Seattle to Kansas City in my Honda Accord just to fetch the chair from my parent’s basement where I had left it underneath a sheet. I drove back to the Northwest, and the first thing I did was head to my new apartment building in Wallingford. I muscled the chair up 3 flights of stairs, unlocked the door for the very first time, walked into the empty studio, and set the chair right by the window on the hardwood floor. It was the first and only piece of furniture I owned.

But slowly, my little home began to build around it.

The chair became the centerpiece of my décor, the first thing that people would notice when they walked in – then outwardly show their disappointment when I told them it was from the 50s, and that no, they could not find an equivalent. When I eventually decided to leave Seattle for Nashville, the chair was the only piece of furniture I moved with me. I stopped in Kansas City on the way, and carried it to the middle of a field where my sister-in-law snapped what would become somewhat of an icon in my life.

I built a new life in Tennessee, and as I moved around, started using the phrase “Home is where the chair is.” And it’s true: each humble place that my chair graced truly felt like home.

At the end of 2009, I loaded the chair for yet another move, this time to Denver. From Franklin to Hooker to now Alcott, the chair has traveled with me, and has remained my favorite piece of furniture. I’ve talked about how I want to keep it forever, picturing it in various reading nooks, or maybe a daughter’s room someday. This chair has been woven into the story of my life, and I have never run across another that could compare with how much I love it.

But this year, something tragic happened. Blame it on years of use, blame it on age, but the seat of the chair wore through and split open. The threadbare fabric finally gave way, and just disintegrated beyond repair. I tried to pull and stitch. I brainstormed how to reupholster it – but it was no use. This chair was done for.

I fought it for months, the raggedy chair keeping up residence in the living room, guests commenting on how the stuffing was coming out. I didn’t want to get rid of it, and tried to think of any way I could resurrect what had become such an important item to me. But I knew that the day would come.

And that day was today.

I bought a utility knife. I walked into the living room, turned the chair around, and took a blade to it – I felt like Fantine cutting off her hair. When I was through, I had removed the back panel of fabric, the only piece that was still in good condition. This memory, this scrap, is now lying in the living room.

My future brother-in-law Michael carried the half-naked and now-destroyed chair out to the alley and threw it in the dumpster. It’s over. It’s gone.

– – – – –

I have some dreams that have not come true. Like the fabric on the chair, no matter how I’ve tried to pull, the fiber of my life just won’t reach far enough. No matter how I’ve tried to stitch, the threads unravel. If it were up to me, my dreams would come together seamlessly, creating something good and unique and beautiful, something that others would comment on, something that I would love.

Just hours before I cut up my chair, I talked to Greta about the importance of letting certain dreams die, or at least transform. If the dream no longer holds together, if it dissolves despite our best efforts, then maybe it’s time to let it go. If forcing the pieces only tears them further, then maybe it’s time to be open to something new – and to be open to that something new being GOOD, even though it isn’t exactly what we’ve valued in the past.

As I look ahead to a new year, I don’t know what to dream. But I know that it needs to be new.

Tonight, I mourn the loss of my chair. I stare at the panel of fabric that I saved, and wonder what to do from here.

But whatever it is, I have to believe it could be good.



  1. Leslie B. on December 30, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    Oh no. Not the chair. Here’s to the next adventure.

  2. Andrea B. on December 30, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    Maybe you could frame the scrap? Or make a pillow?

  3. Emily on December 31, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Annie, I’m so very sorry. I hate when we have to give up momentos and physical representations of things that are precious to us. It hurts so badly. And at the same time it seems foolish somehow to feel so sad about the loss of something that should be “just.” Just a chair. Just a picture. Just a … I know it is never “just.” My friend, tonight I am mourning with you – over the loss of an item of beauty and importance, but also of dreams. I don’t doubt that new dreams will sprout and grow and bear fruit, but I know that the pruning and burning of the old, dead dreams is heavy work. I will sit by the fire with you and be quiet … Thankful for things that have brought beauty to your days and sad for the loss… But ever looking for the dreams – and chairs – that will become part of your next adventures.

    Here’s to 2013 my friend.

  4. Sarah on December 31, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    Check out this chair at La-z-boy: I’ve been drooling over it for a while. It’s definitely not the same, but there are a lot of fabric options, available :) –

    I need to find a piece of furniture like that – I’ve got the dog and the cat. Just need the chair… or futon.

    Happy new year! Here’s to an excellent year :).

  5. Peg Achterman on December 31, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    Annie – not only have you jumped the debt hurdle, in the past few weeks you have written some inspiring posts. I really like that the first place the chair was home for you was in Wallingford! When I walk Skye tomorrow I will tell the neighborhood of its loss :-).

  6. Michael Rhyne on December 31, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Michael…good name, that. Dear Annie…we are so alike sometimes. Wow. I sobbed at the Fantine reference. I understand this post so completely. And so I grieve with you, but also look forward to hearing all about the next chapter of your life!

  7. Marijke on December 31, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Ugh.. I wrote a song this year called “Something New” – it’s been in the works for a few months but I’ve been revising it lately. And it is probably the most meaningful to me of all the songs I’ve written this year. One of the lines in the bridge: “If I let it die then new might grow..”

    Your blog post really resonated with me today. Happy New Year!

  8. Bree Jeffries on December 31, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Love your heart, Annie. Happy New Year. May it be graced with beauty and fresh dreams.

  9. Dani in Washington on December 31, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    As cheesy as it may sound…I’m praying for new & beautiful dreams this coming year.

    Thank you for this beautiful post, from the heart. It encouraged me today and I know that it will continue to encourage me through the coming months.

    Blessings on your head Annie, blessings on your head!

  10. Greta on December 31, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    GAH, the chair!!!

    I can’t believe the chair is dead!!

    But yes, still agreeing with all our thoughts yesterday, good to look ahead I know.

    But the chaaaaairandfantineshaaaaaair. Tragic!!!

    Here is a quote I have been saving:
    “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” -rumi

    Totally grieving the death of the chair. And hoping for good things to come.

  11. HopefulLeigh on January 2, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Beautifully written, Annie. So sad about your beautiful chair. I hope there will be some way or memorializing it- framing the fabric that’s left, perhaps?

    Here’s to all this year holds for you. It will be good indeed.

  12. [not the] Best Blog Ever on January 3, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    Is it, um, going against the theme of this post if I grieve the loss of the chair just a little bit?

  13. Allie, Dearest on January 6, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    This wrenches me. I am grieving for my own personal chairs after reading this. Just yesterday I decided that since all my friends have been talking about 2013 being about dreaming again, that I would call it the year of redreams. I hope that for you!

  14. Stephen on January 9, 2013 at 5:24 PM


  15. Sarah Kate on January 30, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    This makes me so incredibly sad. Not THE chair! What wonderful memories it has lived through. I miss it already (and your darling apartment in Seattle). I still look back fondly on that trip.

  16. hootenannie » Blog Archive » Sunrise into day on September 23, 2013 at 7:50 AM

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