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Bucket Seat Full of Speed

July 10, 2010

“Angie!” the Salvation Army furniture salesman shouts across the racks of lightly worn women’s shirts and pants when I walk in to buy the second half of the pair.

“Did you save one for me?” I shout back just as familiar, even though I don’t know his name.

He knew mine because he’d written it along with my phone number on the beige tag attached to the back of one of four clean wingback recliners in his showroom. Each one was neatly arranged amidst the tables and chairs, dressers and mirrors, couches, coffee tables, and area rugs.

“Hmm. 305, that’s the second time I’ve got that area code. Where’s it from?” he’d asked.

“Miami,” I’d replied.

A nod. Angie from Miami, I thought I’d heard him say, but it was only in my head.

“You gonna want another one?” he’d asked.

“I might,” I’d said, thinking of the empty lavender room behind the fireplace that I’m calling my office, thinking of those two yellowish microfiber recliners my parents had bought last year when they’d given living in the same house one more try. “Let me get this one home first.”

Home, I think, tasting the word in my mouth alongside Connecticut, New Haven, anywhere.

I pay for the first one, take a picture of it with my phone, text it to Eduardo. “Should I get another one?” I ask him.

I wait for his reply remembering my dad’s old recliner: steel blue leather that smelled like his hair. I start thinking one chair wouldn’t, couldn’t be enough, because which of us would sit in it? Whose would it be? His? Mine? Ours?

So many Sunday afternoons stretched into Sunday evenings with my dad propped back in that recliner. It sat in a corner of our living room perfectly positioned to watch Nascar on tv. The rest of us could sit in it, sure, but it was his chair. I can see the way he put his left and right hands on the arms of it, knuckles large with mechanic’s callouses. I can see his bare ankles up on the footrest, hear him rearing back to get comfortable with a glass of tea.

The iced tea would sweat on the coaster as the afternoon wore on. I think he liked Nascar so much because no matter how many times he would doze in and out of it the same thing was going on: Cars droning around a race track, him dreaming of drag racing and a bucket seat full of speed.

That was 15, 20 years ago – my God, is that even possible? I can still feel the thick navy carpet and the cracked white tiles under my feet in that last house we all lived in together, the one that was ultimately lost along with, I suppose, that steel blue recliner.

“Let me pull around front,” I told the salesman, who felt like a new neighbor, even a friend. “Would that be easier for y’all?” It has been years since I said y’all, I realize, and wonder what makes me do it now.

“Yeah,” he says, not thinking it at all strange that some white girl in Connecticut said this to him. “The back’s all locked up already.” I hear regret, apology in his voice as he leans on the updended right arm of an overstuffed green sofa.

“That’s all right,” I reply. “I can just pull around.”

Just pulling around takes longer than I thought. First I pay for that second chair Eduardo agreed we should get. Another $28.11, and I can hardly believe that’s all it costs to have a place to sit, to read, to write, maybe even to watch Nascar with my son.

I get a bit lost in the one-way streets downtown, and I end up going three blocks up and two blocks over before I make it back to the front of the Salvation Army store on Crown.

As I pull around the last turn, I see the salesman’s assistant, the one who brought the chair out and is going to load it into my car. He’s waving at me with everything he’s got, and even though I know he’s just flagging me into the parking spot he’s saved, it feels like a welcome home.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Daddy permalink
    July 27, 2010 12:48 pm

    It seems like only yesterday when I read your words. Life has changed a great deal for all of us, but the one thing that will never change is my love for your writing, and most of all my love for you.
    You are my love child and my inspiration for life. I am a wealthy man because of my children and grandchildren. My legacy is complete.

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