Living room and guard sheep

Living room and guard sheep


A bed. Two bedside tables. A pot rack. Two dressers (man am I sick of making drawers!). A dining-room table. Four chairs for the dining-room table. Two stools for the kitchen counter. A metal rack that we call “the appliance garage.” A monolithic wardrobe. Two office chairs. Two office desks (and more chairs—man am I sick of assembling chairs). A TV stand and a tall shelf. Six lamps and a convertible couch.

That’s what we built during the past two weeks. Yesterday the living-room furniture arrived. Blissfully, it was assembled. (That’s it above.)

I was thinking about all this furniture this morning, and comparing it to buying a new car. Fifteen months ago we sold almost everything we owned—including our furniture—and pocketed $2,000. Last week we wrote the final check for new furniture. All those checks together totaled a little over $8,000. Exchanging new furniture for old, in other words, cost us $6,000. That’s about the same hit you take when you drive a new car off the lot.

(Thank God we don’t have a car.)

Was it worth it? We could’ve rented a storage garage for $150 a month, after all, kept all the old stuff, and come out $4,000 ahead. I could’ve driven clunkers instead of all the new cars I bought over the years too. Do I regret the new cars? No! Do we regret the new furniture? No! Like new cars, the furniture is an expression of the here and now: it fits the new apartment perfectly; it’s reflective of our combined artistic identity; it obliges the functions that we want in furniture at this stage of life.

Compared to living in Portland, our year abroad turned a healthy profit. Even after my medical costs, we realized a considerable windfall. I’m of a mind that a windfall should be properly acknowledged. It’s an indignity to put it in the bank and neglect it. Spend it! Enjoy it! Squander it!