Friends were redecorating, and brought me a La-z-boy. I wasn’t completely committed to accepting a big piece of furniture. Then someone told me, “Maybe you should have a comfortable place to sit in your apartment.” Although I am thirty-five, I don’t have a mature view of furniture. Furniture is something other people give me when they are done with it, and if I need it, I will accept it, as long as it doesn’t smell.
I cleared a space in my living room. Helped carry the chair up in two parts. It’s a very fat chair, and it leans all the way back. It looks like a big soft challah, come to think of it. Puffy and no-color and soothing, like the challah I bought at Grand Central and ate in pieces, tufts pulled out of the top, during the half hour it took to get home, my feet weeping from all the hours of plodding around the concrete.
The minute my friends left, my black formed a cat comma on the new chair, and I was concerned. Would she sit there instead of with me? One is always at the mercy of one’s cats. We have come to adopt a new posture there, with her taking part of the footrest. Occasionally a cat will sit there all alone, while I sit on the other piece of furniture, which is a tiny betrayal.
The Hasidim dance and love learning and braid themselves into a tight community. They love children. They love family and ritual. They also forbid public or university level education. They tell girls their value is as mothers, not scholars or artists or athletes or politicians. They studiously censor their libraries. Hasidism was founded on the idea that everyone can reach God. It has sensuality and joy in its roots. But then, cover your hair. Wigs all around.
Before the delivery, I sat on this strict little piece of furniture that I bought from a neighbor. It is black and wine, wine cushions that have very little cushioning left, and a black shiny painted frame. Asian in shape, all rectangles. With auxiliary pillows and a blanket, it can be made comfortable enough.
The world of the Hasidim is a world that sounds utterly romantic and utterly impossible. To know your place. To accept some serious limits. When growing up in a permissive time, tight strictures can sound inspiring.
I read in the La-Z-Boy. When I was out of town recently, I had a room with one of those glider rockers and a glider footstool, and a very big, puffy couch. I read in both those spots. Maybe I should have a softer, snugglier place to read. There’s something about the awkward way I have to pose my sharp, crooked body on the loveseat, though. There’s something I like about sitting or lying funny, some ways of sitting, like one leg under me, make me feel like tree pose, the one where you balance on one foot and put your other foot against the inside of the standing-up thigh. You realize that humans all over the world had bodies much like yours, even thousands of years ago. They were just shorter.
I propped my door open so we could carry in the two pieces of the La-Z-boy. Sat for a good half hour after that, chatting with my donors/delivery persons. When I walked them out, I saw the door had been left open. Where were my cats? Well, one was in my writing chair, because she sits there way more than I do, and the other was hiding under my bed. The cats don’t want to go anywhere.