Thursday, July 15, 2010

Candlewaxing Nostalgic

Today, while listening to Stevie N doing Landslide I got to thinking about the things I used to have that I don't have anymore. Probably because I used to like to try to play that song on my old guitar that I also, don't have anymore.

I never could play Landslide all the way through without making a mess of it. But I tried.

Believe it or not, but once upon a time, I had a couch. I also had some "art" that I composed myself. It was truly horrific and amateur and would most likely get me banished from most art-loving societies, but it was my own bad art so I hung it with reckless and nonsensical abandon. I owned a rickety piano that I rescued from a friend. Ancient and fiercely upright, it fought me when I played it like a petulant child-- stubbornly refusing to stay in tune. After months of pounding and fuming, I eventually learned to play it as it wanted to be, and one day we simply stopped fighting.

And one day, I simply started writing music again.

I used to own an apartment full of painstakingly refinished furniture that I trekked all over Los Angeles to yard sales, and estate sales, and thrift shops. I became the proud owner of a monstrous pink, antique desk that I purchased from a manic furniture artist named Claudia who lived in Venice beach and wore nothing but paint-smeared caftans that billowed and ballooned like psychedelic clouds around her enormous and frenetic frame.

Thanks to Claudia's sheer force of will and an inherent inability to comprehend failure, that desk made its way into my second story bedroom window via a series of precarious pulleys and gnarled ropes that creaked and moaned as they heaved the gargantuan thing up into the light of a dying Los Angeles afternoon.

I still remember the day I bought it, and how excited I was that I would finally have something substantial to sit behind as I wrote. How the desk made me feel like I had finally made it, as a writer. "This will make you famous one day!" Claudia beamed at me, her blue eyes twinkling behind reigns of smeared mascara as she stood triumphant and bold beside the hulking monstrosity now holding court in my bedroom.

That night, as I sat there at my new desk, I hoped she was right.

Of course when I moved to my next apartment, I left the desk in that second story bedroom. There was no place for demonstrative furniture it in my new home. Some things are meant to be left behind I guess.

But then I bought a chair. A white chair so enormous and cloud-like and magical that I never wanted to leave it. I'd melt into that seat for hours, writing blogs with my laptop perched upon my knees, smoking cigarettes and drinking wine into the forgotten hours of early morning.

I called it my writing chair.

When I left Los Angeles, I sold my magical writing chair to a woman up the street, who also purchased most of the furniture in my apartment. Her name was also Tara. "It's like you were in my head and knew exactly what I was looking for!" she shrieked the day she drove up to my yard sale and hopped out of her SUV.

"This is exactly everything I need and want! You have my everything!"

Sad as I was to see my everything go, I was comforted by the knowledge that my things would at least get to stay together, if not with me, with some other Tara who loved them.

Every once in a while I wonder about the magical chair. And the big pink elephant desk. And the ornery piano.

Today I remembered how, every once in a while, I'd turn off all of the lights and ignite every candle in my apartment and sit with the things I had accumulated and worked for during my life. I'd glance around at my stuff and remember how we all got there, and at what cost. In the dim and flickering shadows, somehow it all came together. The bad art, and the writer, and the piano and the dreams. 

Sitting here  in North Carolina with only the clothes I showed up with and not much else, I don't really miss the things that much.

Not really.

Except the chair.

I do miss the writing chair. I wish I could buy it back and I am sorry that I sold it.

Some things are just meant to keep. Even if it means dragging them across the country. Even if they're a big pain in the ass to haul. They're worth the expense, and the pain and the irritation.

Not because they mean anything on their own, or have any intrinsic value just sitting there...but because they remind you of what you can be.

And somehow, they inspire you to be it.

Tara Callahan


  1. Oh, my friend, Tara. Your words...evocative, inspiring, humorous, sad.

    Why do they touch me? I am not certain why, but I am certain they do.

    They stir me to find that cloud chair, toss it into the back of a well-worn truck, and point myself toward the Carolinas.

  2. Thank you BC. If you find it. Toss it.