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"Once loved, once reviled, then once again loved again, …"

The Villa's furnishings have never matched, each piece hailing from its own era, half of it in long-standing desperate need of reupholstering, each CastOffs in their time. The Muse and I believe that our furnishing style imparts a homier feel than more modern matching furniture might. We refer to the overriding style as Early Undergraduate in remembrance of those apartments we once inhabited where one rented a room and shared furnished living spaces, perhaps with the bottom end of a closed-off grand staircase dominating the living room and providing overflow seating space. We've acquired these pieces in second hand shops and estate sales over the duration of our relationship, always looking for quality, of course, but also for an acceptable quirkiness. Our furniture mirrors our shared experiences. One chair in our master bedroom looks like it had rickets as a child, one foreleg curiously angled. I might get around to performing surgery on it one day, but it works just fine for the purpose we intend for it for now. Some of the stuff belonged to our forebears. A rocker my great grandmother rocked me to sleep in, recovered by the ever-inventive Muse, still retaining its original satisfying squeak. A cherrywood china cabinet from a consignment shop dominates our dining room. My writing chair, a remnant of my first wife's grandfather's estate.

Each piece, like all CastOffs, holds a story, many pre-dating our stewardship, our home an Americana museum.
In my life, I've only bought new furniture twice, a teddybear couch and a semi-matching coffee table back when the kids were small, and a pre-offspring squawky bentwood wicker rocker the seat of which I've replaced several times, within which I rocked my own babies to sleep. That couch and coffee table long ago became CastOffs of their own. The rocker now serves as a part of the kittens' labyrinth in the living room. Modern furniture seems designed more for looks than utility. The Marriotts we stay in when traveling have taken to furnishing rooms with furniture that demands much consideration before settling into, and takes two or three pillows and a strategically-placed footstool for me to create a hospitable sitting place, and even then, I settle into a glaring compromise. Garishly-colored, these pieces seem more parody than practical. At least our CastOffs were designed for actual people, damn the discolored seat cushion.

I believe that one of the keys to crafting a good life can be found in embracing CastOffs. The items as well as the people shunned by standard society seem to hold more fascinating facets than does any more standard model. I prefer the company of CastOffs, the once-shunned tell better stories and seem to hold more character, for they've survived the crushing disappointment of banishment, perhaps even disparagement, and survived to live other lives. I imagine The Muse's settee and chair to have once been a stylish pair gracing some Victorian sitting room. Now, the settee really needs the blanket covering its scars and the chair perfectly fits The Muse's behind and nobody else's. We've refinished some of our cabinets, destroying any patina that once remained. Each piece seems fit for its unique place in our lives and seemingly nowhere else anywhere in this world.

We've CastOff some of our CastOffs over time. The CastOff hideabed we acquired for free when we lived in Maryland, went for nothing at our Everything's Free clearance sale before we cleared out. That sale attracted like-minded neighbors looking for the kinds of CastOffs they'd always acquired. Upper Middle Class folks who, like The Muse and I, simply cannot bring themselves to buy furnishings new. Only CastOffs, and only certain CastOffs, will do. We delighted in parting with what we'd delighted in acquiring, feeling as though we were the most fortunate people on the planet. Someone went to borrow a truck while praising their good luck and the GDP notched neither higher nor lower as a result.

The neighborhood listserv usually drives me crazy with curious queries. Someone recently asked why 'they' don't open the third bore in the Eisenhower Tunnel to better accommodate weekend ski traffic between Denver and the High Country. The single response replied that the Eisenhower Tunnel only has two bores. Someone's always looking for handymen, though the archives overfloweth with perfectly usable prior recommendations. But when a CastOff's advertised, I'm suddenly all ears and eyes. Our garage overflow fridge was a freebee advertised there. The repairman scheduled to arrive at nine this morning appeared in the listserv's archive. The hideabed couch to replace that one we CastOff before leaving Maryland showed up advertised on the ListServ last weekend, and The Muse signed up for the queue. The first two showing interest declined the opportunity, so today I'll head over to meet what might well become the next cast member in our ongoing production. Once loved, once reviled, then once again loved again, that's every CastOff's story.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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