By Robert Provitera
The light was shining in the front window early this morning on a Kingly old chair in the living room corner. Rays of sunshine were reaching across the weathered wood and old fabric like an overzealous intervention determined to reveal the truth about what was really going on with this old relic, still adjusting to its newest surroundings.
We are planning our daughter's outdoor wedding on a majestic horse farm near Nashville from home. She loves antiques and envisions Victorian chairs and fainting couches artfully grouped around worn area rugs and end tables decorated with metal candle sconces and other antiquities.
Chandeliers hanging from trees in Tennessee and old mismatched china are not just tall tales around the house lately. Some have temporarily camouflaged their way into our existing home décor. I have resigned myself to the fact that it is just until the wedding and the fulfillment of a creative vision that my daughter and now my wife are pursuing with great passion. Where we were just pairing down and purging our home from excess and downsizing, I now find myself accumulating and acquiring once again.
Also, I am quietly pleased that my daughter appreciates antiques over modern décor. She loves older music and family heirlooms as well, and that makes me smile. Who am I to get in the way of such powerful wedding ambitions?
This new pursuit, in coordination with my wife's detective work, has been sending me to multiple corners of the state and beyond on a search and rescue mission for what sometimes looks like old furniture and unwanted items from strangers in unfamiliar places.This dynamic process (which began with strategy, logistics, coordination, and scheduling) quickly uncovered a more profound layer beneath the surface. I discovered that the furniture was often part of a package deal.
Each transitioning piece also comes with a story. One love seat carried memories and posterior fossils dating back to the late 1800s. Its red velvet cushion has turned pale and lost most of its horsehair and other organic fill. It has been respectfully repaired and may remain in our family for generations. Another chair was used at a daughter's wedding last year. The father of the bride was extremely pleased to see the tradition continue. The money I exchanged for a large couch was used as a shovel to help dig a family out of student loan debt. They also found comfort in knowing what the future will hold for that trusty couch.
One longer-than-usual hunt brought me down some back roads that led to a hidden neighborhood. The lady of the house opened the door that led to a bright foyer where her husband joined us with a kingly chair that he placed in the middle of the space like a throne. I was ready to move on to the agreed-upon exchange, but when I was treated like royalty and asked to sit in the chair to see how I liked it, I stayed to see what would happen next. The couple was very gracious. They offered me something to drink, and our conversations began to go beyond the varnish of cordiality. We got into some deeper discussions, and I believed, for some reason, family secrets and struggles were being sanded down to their natural state. It was as if no subject was off limits, and an invisible bond of trust stitched our time together. Sitting in that chair seemed to bestow the wisdom of King Solomon upon its inhabitant. Advice and counsel were flowing back and forth in that foyer with certainty and a bright sense of clarity.
For over an hour, we continued like that, unraveling personal history and weaving compassionate understanding. The sun transitioned in direction and intensity through the palladium window like a guide that directed the pace and resolution of our unexpected and benevolent unfolding. The three of us seemed to know the exact time of our conclusion as if our dance was complete. When I got up from that chair, I felt differently about my original purpose there. I seemed lighter and more awake than when we started. This was clearly not about an exchange of money for used furniture. Family history was uncovered and maybe even refurbished through a novel relationship where trust was billowing out of that royal chair at the end of a winding back road into a previously hidden neighborhood.
Before the wedding, we may have to add a seatbelt to that king's chair. Someone on the guest list may be in for a royal journey as family history continues to transition into the future and antiquity renews our spirit.
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