Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Year, New Layout

Last week I rearranged the furniture in our living room in an attempt to create the illusion of more space in our chopped up house. It was not a deliberate attempt to bring misery upon my family. It was not a vindictive effort to destroy all that is good in the world. And yet.

The thing is, the passion to rearrange struck me at about 1am in the morning, after everyone else had gone to sleep. It started with wondering if I could get rid of a step chest that stuck out in a way that suddenly drove me crazy. Once that was out of the way, it became obvious that our slouchy green couch had to move. In fact, after years of great service as our first ever joint furniture purchase in a store other than Ikea, it too might have to leave. To see what that would look like, I moved it out of the way, rearranged the remaining chairs. Other minor changes ensued. Pictures were moved, and rugs were folded - just to see what a smaller rug might look like. And then suddenly it was 3am.

I was awakened the next morning by my loving spouse, who called up, “Hey, you’d better get down here, there’s a revolt going on.”

And he wasn’t joking.

Eli (age 8): “Mom, we can’t even get to the front door – and we can’t see the TV from the couch if it’s all the way over there.”

Yumi (age 5, stomping foot): “Yeah!”

Burton (age 39): (Silently: “Yeah!”)

Eli: “And we’re going to trip on this rug! Why is it folded over like this Mom?! We could get HURT!”

Yumi: “Yeah!”

Burton: (Silently: “Yeah!”)

Stumbling back after grabbing my coffee, I tried to explain.

Me: “This is just representative guys! It’s just showing how things COULD be. The rug isn’t going to stay folded like that – I just wanted to see what a smaller rug might look like. It’s nice to change things once in a while isn’t it?”

Eli: “We hate change! We like keeping things the way they are!”

Yumi/Burton: (Same response as above).

Me: “Actually I was just thinking about letting some other family have this green couch for a while – I moved it over here to get it out of the way.”

Eli: “WHAT?!!” Smoke coming out of ears and nostrils. “Are you just trying to get rid of our favorite green couch? Our comfy couch? Why don’t you like this couch Mom? We’re only going to be happy if we can sit on this couch! Why do you hate this couch Mom? Tearing up. ( Meaning, “Why do you hate US Mom?!!” )

Burton: (Clearly pleased that his points had all been made without having to utter a word himself): “Maybe we can go eat breakfast and then ask Mom about WHY she moved things around and what she’s trying to accomplish. Then we can help her do that in a way that we are all excited about - and that KEEPS THE COUCH THAT WE ALL LOVE, right kids?”

Although our kids threatened not to eat until the furniture was put back where it had been, ultimately pancakes and bacon saved the day. I agreed to move the couch back (because although I do hate the couch, I love my family), but we did banish the step chest, move the chairs and buy a Flor shag rug in moves that were ultimately agreeable to all.

As I listened to my kids and witnessed their bewilderment, I was suddenly reminded of our poor Julep Parlor Hostesses and Vernisseurs as they arrive for what they believe will be a normal day, only to be barraged with phone calls about a last minute promotion (“Watch Twilight at Julep! $5 off!”) that appeared without warning.

I have learned from this experience. In 2010 I will try to be mindful of other people’s need to prepare and have input into change. I will try my hardest not to impose late night ideas on others the very next morning. I will try to be aware that what is just ideation and playing around with concepts for me might be rationally viewed by others as a tripping hazard. And sometimes a couch is more than a couch, it is love itself.

So thank you everyone at Julep for bearing with us as I try out different furniture configurations and move things in and out in an effort to create a better company!