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Reflections: Saying Goodbye to Fernando

The time has come to give away my college couch. I’ve held on to it now for nearly twelve years, and I’ve run out of excuses to keep the tattered piece of 90’s memorabilia. My first thought was to sell Fernando – oh, did I mention the couch’s name is Fernando? – for a large sum of cash to some wealthy purchaser who sees the same intrinsic value in bamboo furniture that I do. I tried Craigslist and immediately received numerous responses of people willing to pay the requisite $35 to take ownership of my couch. I chose carefully – which e-mail truly sounded like they would love this green cushioned double papasan from Pier One? Which responders appeared to actually know what a double papasan is and didn’t intend to show up in my driveway in their Prius to claim their unfortunately-too-large prize? Try as I did to make the right match, Fernando and I were stood up on more than one occasion. Were these people just toying with my mind? Did they know that I really didn’t want to sell my couch?

At my husband’s urging I turned to Freecycle where I knew some thankful freecycler would read my post and instinctively hit the respond button, their heart racing, reflexes jumping, hoping to reply to my listing first. I knew that to truly find a new owner, I’d have to be creative. My listing read as follows:

This offer is for a Pier One double papasan (the loveseat sized version of the papasan chair) that answers to the name of Fernando. Fernando has been a true friend over the years, but we need to find him a new forever home. He was where I was sitting when my now husband stole his first kiss (or did I do the stealing?), he gave me a cozy place to sit when my daughter cried in the night, and he witnessed lots of family fun. Unfortunately, he’s being pushed out by our new friends – large,plastic toys. If you’ve got a place in your home for Fernando, please let me know. No resales or donations, please. Thanks!

And then I had to get real…

p.s. Preference given to anyone who can pick up before Friday.

So why am I having such a hard time getting rid of an old piece of cheap furniture? I don’t think it’s Fernando at all – I think it’s what Fernando represents to me. Once upon a time he was shiny and new, the realization of my dream of independence, my first piece of purchased college furniture. I remember the excitement when my dad helped me loft my bed on PVC piping cut to exactly the right height to create a home for my new couch. My roommate and I gleefully called it our reading nook, but once my parents headed home in the mini-van, we renamed it the love cave and christened our couch, Fernando. During that year of school I’m sure that we spent most of our time on that couch studying for exams or chatting with friends, but there was that one fateful night when my best friend and I decided to see what it would be like to be more than friends – and more than friends with benefits. He’s now been my husband for seven years.

Fernando was the only familiar face in my studio apartment in West Philly where I lived alone during grad school. He’s where I ate my lonely pasta meals for one and where I studied for my comps. Eventually he was joined by my cat, Tigger, who found him to be a perfect place to nap. Fernando followed me to my first apartment with my fiance, and then suddenly in our first home as a married couple, he was moved to the basement. We bought a “grown-up couch”, painted an accent wall, and assembled our Ikea entertainment center. We spent our days at work, our evenings at restaurants, and our nights enjoying much needed sleep. Fernando didn’t seem to mind that I was no longer collapsing on him after a festive night out, studying in the middle of the night, my feet propped up on his perfectly curved side.

And then we had kids. Fernando hung on for awhile in our new, bigger house with our new, bigger family. After all, we had more rooms to fill, and he seemed to come in handy in our sunroom. But as clearly as the carefree days of my youth had been replaced by this new world – motherhood – Fernando’s days were numbered. He held up well under the occasional spit-up; served with dignity as the impromptu diaper-changing station; and even took it like a man when I sewed a baby blue slipcover on him because suddenly my decor had to match. Suddenly I was using words like decor. But like I always knew it would, the day came when I had to move the couch to the basement to make room for a child’s plastic desk (complete with light and chair!) and a toddler’s plastic kitchen (only $7.00 at a yard sale!), and a shopping cart, an easel, a second desk for baby brother….

So here I am, saying good-bye to Fernando, and realizing that my college days are gone – long gone. It’s a hard thing to do – to let go of yourself and become someone else – a mother, a wife, a selfless creature who has grown up, moved on.

Fernando needs a new home – in fact, I think he wants a new home. He hasn’t liked his place next to the high chair (saved just in case) and the bins of clothing (also from college….hmmm….) for some time now. And I’m pretty sure he’ll be happy with the forever home that I’ve found for him:

The interns’ lounge at a theater.

I wonder if they’re accepting applications….

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