Chairs can tell stories
just as well as the walls
Monday, January 13, 2014 4:03 AM
A year ago, I sat at my bedroom desk in a wooden chair with too short of a back and typed my first column for the Bluff Country Newspaper Group. Since that time, I have had the privilege of writing 37 more. Now, I am weaving together my 39th and penultimate column and am feeling the nostalgia roll in.
In a way, I feel like it all comes down to chairs. I sat in one today as I worked. It had a metal frame with a bright blue cushion, which emitted a rush of air whenever I sat down.
Just over a year ago, I sat in a black swivel chair, staring at a model of a random DNA sequence. My fingers found the lever underneath the seat and, whoop!, up I went. Unfortunately, even from my elevated perspective I still wondered how I was going to explain DNA splicing for my college biology class. With a low hiss, I sank back down.
Through the yawning arches of TCF Bank Stadium and huddled into the corner of the drumline practice room would be another metal framed and black fabric covered chair. I took those chairs for granted even though they were always there for me to collapse into after a strenuous performance or rehearsal.
A year and a half before then, I sat in my parent's car, staring at complicated drum cadences as my heart pounded at the thought of auditioning for the University of Minnesota Drumline. I squirmed in my chair, anxious to stand up and move around to relieve stress. After the audition, the same chair allowed me to relax from my enthusiasm over making it into the drumline.
Three months before then, I sat in a simple, metal folding chair located on a riser facing family members as they celebrated my graduation.
Three months before then, I sat in a chair on the stage of Orchestra Hall for the All-State Band performance. I can't remember exactly what kind of chair it was. I was nervous.
Two summers before then, I sat in a plastic framed, dark blue covered chair nervously taking notes at my first Fillmore County Board meeting.
Perhaps it isn't clear why I'm talking about chairs. Maybe I've got chairs on my mind because I saw a news story about the old Metrodome seats. In third grade, I went to my first Twins game. I sat in those not-at-all purple seats and had a memorable experience. In the video, it showed the seats getting removed and hauled away by faithful fans of Minnesota sports. They were just chairs, but imbued in them were years of memories, both good and bad, that influenced the people who sat there.
I would go over to my grandparents' houses. There were at least two chairs deemed "Grandpa's chair:" one in the living room and another at the dining table. I didn't even think about sitting in them. To do so would be a sin against familial order. Either that or I was worried Grandpa would come and sit on me.
At home, Mom and Dad had their chairs across from each other that they always sat in. I always sat in the chair facing the painting of the Last Supper. After eating, I would grab my chapter book and snuggle sideways into a rocking chair that looked like I had snuggled sideways into it many times before. On Sunday, my family would take up its seat in the right side pews. Never the left side. Never.
You may know the phrase "If these walls could speak . . ." Well, not to disrespect the quasi-omnipotent nature of walls, but I think chairs could tell a lot more. Those platforms with four legs, which have been engineered to hold and adjust to weight and its displacement, could tell us our life story. From when our legs were too short to reach the floor to when we couldn't get out of one without help, they could recite it all to us. They would tell us stories of excitement when we were bouncing in our seat, tales of anxiety as we slumped in our chair and all the memories in between.
It's going to be a little weird when I stop sitting in the chairs I have become accustomed to sitting in throughout the past year. The chairs I kept warm through my reporting obligations will now sit empty. But they will also be open for another person to sit down and enjoy. And perhaps it isn't clear why I'm talking about chairs.