It’s gone. The not-so-badly worn, crumbs-in-its cracks, cocoa-brown chair faded in spots by the sun. Our venerable flip chair is gone.
The flip chair followed us from the day I first found it on the spiffy North Shore of Chicago to a student’s studio apartment in DC. And later, from three different apartments in Cambridge, Mass., to a charming one-bedroom in San Francisco.
And now it’s finally gone.
The chair served us well. I discovered it at an estate sale in a posh section of Winnetka, Illinois, inside a grand house on a private road near the lake. It was in perfect condition, and I thought it would be useful as an extra chair, just right for my daughters’ sleepover guests because it could flip out from its chair-like position into a bed. A single-size bed that would turn out to be quite comfy.
One of my daughters first used it when her friend Katie stayed overnight and slept on the flipped-out chair. Katie was a nice young girl, but she wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. After she went home, we found she’d left behind a copy of Teen Beat magazine. My daughters, who didn’t relate to Teen Beat’s focus on vapid teenage idols, leafed through it, and none of us could help laughing when we saw that Katie had underlined certain stories. Underlining stories in Teen Beat? Our scoffing reaction was probably unkind, but we made sure that Katie never knew. I think we called and offered to return her magazine, but I don’t think she took us up on it.
Other young friends slept on the chair once in a while, so we held onto it, figuring it might continue to be useful. It finally justified its existence years later, when my younger daughter (I’ll call her Laurie) left to study law at Georgetown in DC. We rented an SUV, stuffed it with her possessions, and stuck the flip chair into the mix. When we arrived, it happily fit into the studio apartment she rented in Dupont Circle, and I slept on it myself a couple of times. It was comfy indeed.
After law school, Laurie began work as the law clerk for a judge in Boston and rented an apartment in Cambridge. The flip chair joined her there, and it went on to reside in two other apartments in Cambridge before Laurie moved to a one-bedroom in San Francisco. There, placed next to a window in her living room, the chair basked in the California sun, its color fading.
I sat on it occasionally, but it wasn’t a great chair for sitting. We clung to it, thinking it might serve once again as an extra bed for visitors. But things changed dramatically about a year ago when Laurie’s new baby arrived on the scene. The flip chair stayed in its place by the window, continuing to fade, while no one ever used it as a bed.
As the year went along, it became clear that Laurie needed to make room for some essential things for her baby. Some of the old stuff had to go. Beginning with two skinny chairs and a dented metal wardrobe, then a creaky IKEA chest of drawers and an unwieldy suitcase—all were set outside for takers driving by her apartment building. And finally, the bell tolled for the flip chair.
Two days ago, Laurie shoved the flip chair into her elevator and carried it to the sidewalk outside her building, where a lucky scavenger could seize it and get a few more years out of it. In its place is a large play yard for the baby, filled with a heap of his books and toys. Clearly a much better use of the space where the flip chair once sat.
And so we said goodbye to the valued but largely ignored flip chair. It won’t be missed, but it will be remembered as a quasi-member of the family, one whose tenure in our homes had finally come to an end.