Friday, December 30, 2016

The End of my Love Affair with Louis

I dragged the old Louis XV chair closer to the window this morning here in my daughter's first apartment so I could look out across the snow-covered rooftops while I sipped my coffee and ate my soft-boiled egg. She still needs a small kitchen table, so I had to create a makeshift dining nook. As she slept, I reflected.  Her apartment is a small walk-up and is much like one I lived in back in the 80's. I had forgotten what it was like to have to walk several flights up the stairs with groceries or down to the laundry room after rummaging for coins. It took me back to those days and memories of my first marriage when we lived in that apartment.

It was a short-lived affair in the grand scheme of my life. We were married just four years. We met in university. He was two years younger in actual years, but at least a decade younger from a maturity standpoint. We never should have tied the knot in retrospect. My trip down memory lane has been compounded now as I received an "out of the blue" message from his sister yesterday. I had not known what had become of his family and it was so strange that she should find me at this moment when I am staying in this apartment with all it's similarities to the past.

My entire month back in Canada has been a series of endings and closures. Literally. Many of my old reliable shops and services are gone. The mall I always frequented has been renovated beyond recognition. My favourite dress shop in Port Credit - gone! It is as though I was away for far more than three years. Even my old house is completely changed - renovated to the nines. So, in some ways it was comforting to see a few of my old bits of furniture and china finding new life in my daughter's first solo living space.

But back to this chair. This antique Louis XV chair that now finds itself in unfamiliar surroundings is not unlike this old broad sitting gazing out the third floor window of an apartment in Ottawa - a city she does not know well at all. The old chair used to sit upon a proper Persian carpet, one of a pair that flanked the fireplace in the old Montgomery house in Toronto. I had pined for those chairs for months, maybe years, visiting the antique shop where they sat waiting for a new home. I kept popping into that shop hoping for a price reduction, haggling with the owner to no avail and just as I was about to give up on ever owning them, it happened. The shop was closing and everything was being cleared out. I got them for half of the original asking price (even that was steep) and they were what finally completed the look I had been trying to achieve for years. It strikes me as almost comical now. I had been trying to create some crazy mini Versailles in my Etobicoke home and by the time those chairs were plunked down into the living room, I was over it. I wasn't completely over it, but I already knew my tastes were heading in a new direction and my love affair with everything Louis was fizzling out like a spent Canada Day sparkler.

I see this chair now as a turning point in my life. It represents where I have been and who I was or who I was trying to be. I recall how it made me feel like I had arrived somewhere. I was an adult. Only an adult would own such a chair, let alone a pair of them! Was that to be it? Was my journey in life over with the acquisition of those chairs? Had I reached some sort of pinnacle? Had I realized the ultimate furniture dream? Would owning those chairs finally make me ridiculously happy? There may have been a part of me that saw it that way then. I don't know really. I am in such a different place in my life now, although at that time I didn't see that coming either. I cannot even imagine "longing" for a piece of furniture now. My longings have evolved.

This chair reminds me now, just how much.

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