In this city of many students, it a huge housing shuffle takes place every year, this time of year. Two of my sons are moving, and I have gotten involved in the process. I want to tell them to be careful what they carry into their new abode, to do-as-I-say-not-as-I’ve-done, and avoid accumulation.
But, throwing my imagination back to those early adult years, I can recall the joy of adorning my dorm room with something new. Something I’d chosen, or been given by a new friend. Something that made me feel like I was becoming a new person, and something that made me feel connected to history and grounded in a shifting present.
The Morris chair was one of those things. My college yearbook shows me sitting in it, and I can hardly imagine now how I transported it through annual dorm changes and multiple moves. Family lore said it accompanied my father to college in the ’30s, a gift from an older relation. And it is probably older than that, perhaps over a hundred years old now. Somehow it remained with me over the years: a bulky oak construction of mission-style design.
For the last fifteen years or so, it sat in my basement. The cushions meandered off to join some other seating arrangement, and boxes piled upon the sturdy oak. I might have made room for it upstairs, but for the fact that there is already more furniture there than a pair of empty nesters can employ.
Why is it that it seems important to keep this piece in the family? I suppose all those episodes of Antiques Roadshow had something to do with it: when stories of provenance are lost, some value disappears. But I was reluctant to suggest that one of my sons adopt this one. Somehow, I don’t think they’re likely to remember the details, or to care for it as much as I do. So it has gone to my sister’s place, where hopefully someone from the next generation may form an attachment to it.