The word hope hung above the doorway in the living room of my old house in Syracuse. I had put it there in the series of rooms labelled Faith, Hope, and Love. Each title fit it’s corresponding room perfectly. Hope represented the dreaming, planning, and sharing that occurred in that room. Second only to stools I put in the kitchen for friends while I cooked, the couch in the living room was the most visited spot in my house.
It was on that brand new couch that I sat the night I closed on the purchase of my house, not yet moved in other than the new furniture delivered that day. I sat eating pizza off of paper plates, sipping on whiskey a friend had jokingly brought for my dad. I ate full of hope for the life that I would build there.
I cried on that couch with many friends over cups of tea. At losses of lives over too soon, lost love, and shattered dreams or fear of their lack of replacement.
It was on that couch that I sat last April, trembling at the news of the bombings at the Boston marathon within blocks of my sister in law’s store, waiting with hope to hear that she was ok.
It was on that couch, wine in hand that I pulled out a pile of wedding catalogs to congratulate a friend on her engagement.
And it was on that couch that I researched, planned, and solidified my arrangements to move to New York City. Hopeful that I was making the right choice.
Early into the strategizing of my move I began to parcel out all of my belongings amongst friends. Concerned that people would question my motives in giving away almost all of my worldly possessions I later chose to rethink my plan. It was clear that some items, like a large box of kitchen appliances and another two of serving dishes would require a storage unit and once that was decided the list of things I would keep continued to grow. By the time I left Syracuse I had a storage unit filled with boxes, end tables, a futon, my desk, a bed, a couch, and more boxes of miscellaneous items I may some day want again.
When I signed a lease in New York and moved into my new apartment some items left storage and joined me here. Others, however, stayed. My table was too large for a city kitchen, living room too small for a large couch, and despite ample cabinet space, I couldn’t justify all of my kitchen appliances, although I do miss my chocolate fountain almost daily.
A few weeks ago, a conversation led to my storage unit. I was questioned on why I had chosen to pay to hold onto these leftover items. I tried to reply, unable to give a rational reason aside from the fact that they held sentimental value.
“That’s a lot to pay for a memory, don’t you think?”
He had a point. I still plan to save the table and the boxes need sorting before throwing away, but I had no intentions to repurpose the couch. Given my track record would surely decide to purchase a new one for my next space one day. The one in storage served no purpose than that of my illogical fear of letting go.
So thus began the next stage of my move. A family friend took the futon as my parents searched for a home for the couch.
They found a young girl they know who was willing to take it. So last week my dad and his friend moved the couch into the home of Monu, a deaf refugee who last year went door to door searching for others like her, offering to teach them American Sign Language.
I received an email from my mother yesterday. Attached was the picture below from Monu. With a note.
Your couch, full of deaf refugees. Before the couch we sat on the floor.
What are you holding onto, selfishly that can bring someone else up off of the floor?
Let it go.
Sometimes, hope means lightening our grip of the past, of our baggage and stuff, allowing the letting go to bless others. To bless us.
My couch is still full of hope. Today though, it is someone else’s. And in the moments when life seems to constantly tear my hope away, seeing that is exactly what I’ve needed.