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  Pastel Art of James Southworth


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Jean Southworth

January 2002

Newlywed Couch

Several years ago there was a newlywed couple, that was not us, who lived in a big city in the tiniest of apartments. As is the case with most young marrieds, they were furniture-deficient. Relatives heard of a distant in-lawís cast-off couch, and offered it to the newlyweds. The couch was barely worn, in fact, it looked never used. The newlyweds accepted.

The newlywed wife had a certain sense of class and their tiny apartment shined, despite the relative bareness of the place. That is, until the arrival of said couch.

Now at one time, this couch must have been at the height of style, back in 1971 perhaps. It was a modern, flat, pastel number about 15 feet in length. Of course, I exaggerate, only because the apartment certainly wasnít that long. Still, think of a pink rubber raft blown up inside a pup tent, and you get the feel for this couch in the newlywed living space. Soonafter, the newlyweds moved. The enormous unused couch did not follow them. Iím uncertain what happened to it; some things are best left unknown, but Iíd wager it involved a landfill.

Grandmaís Couch

In the early 1970ís, Mom hired a decorator friend and finally got her dream living room. Momís couch was lengthy and made of styliní brushed gold velvet. Thirty years later the couch remains in the same spot in the same room. The cushions have survived pretty well but the supports finally surrendered after so much usage. People like to sink into a soft couch, but I donít think they are supposed to worry about hitting the floorboards. We offer assistance arising from the center section of this couch.

Yet, if comfort is defined as ease and well-being, there is no place more comfortable. For this is the place of conversation and affection, of childrenís toys at play, of a good nap with a blanket magically appearing. We tease Mom about updating her furniture, but this is where we are drawn: the middle of an ancient sagging couch in the warm home of our parents.

My couch

Some time ago I spotted small holes in the back corners of my living room couch. I assumed they were the result of my childrenís little fingers gaining strongholds for climbing. Recently, I noticed the holes have ripped and ripened into jagged tears, big enough that I must arrange my furniture a certain way. This distressed me until I realized that the holes simply developed from too much wear. From too many books read, too many cat naps, too many friends visiting, too many bible study ladies laughing, crying and praying, too much family hanging out. Now I see the middle support beginning to sag. I couldnít be prouder.