It was just an old chair that rocked easily. I saw it at the Jackson House, a place where people send their unused or unnecessary furniture. It was beautiful with its nicks and scars–character marks, I called them. I told Daddy that was what I wanted for my 16th birthday. I remember Daddy asking me, “Baby, don’t you want a new chair like that?” No, I wanted this one. I had a feeling that this chair could tell me a story if I listened hard enough
That cold Saturday afternoon in November, I brought home a bentwood rocker that Daddy paid $35 for at a consignment store. It sat in my bedroom right beside my stereo/record player where I played my Bay City Roller albums over and over again. I rocked to the beat of their music as I dreamed of meeting them one day.
When my first boyfriend broke up with me, my rocker hugged me and rocked me while my broken heart wept, and I asked myself why he didn’t care for me anymore; what did I do to cause it, and how will I keep from making that mistake again. Trying to gain some comfort, I put on my earphones and let the sounds of Barry Manilow’s ballads soothe my aching head and swollen eyes.
Running into my bedroom, my escape, my safe space, I fled from my father’s rage over inconsequential issues and jealousy towards my mother. I pulled my old quilt over me and rocked as if I were able to make the rocker move while it gradually felt warm and safe wrapped up, and I quickly fell asleep, so strung out with the tension of living inside our house.
Loading it into Daddy’s truck, we hauled it to Ouachita that last summer school so that I could take courses that were not being offered in the last two semesters. That summer, I was determined to do without an air conditioner, so each night, after I took a bath and washed my sweaty hair, I sat in the rocker in front of the box fan stuck in the window of Ouachita Apartments on the 2nd floor and attempted to dry my hair without heat. Later that month, Phillip drove through Arkadelphia on the way to Mt. Ida and stopped off to have dinner and spend the night. I took a picture of him sitting in the rocker cooling his pizza with the fan.
I didn’t want to fall for him; I did not want to fall for him. He was my friend and a good friend; okay, so he was my handsome, sexy, good friend…and that’s all he would ever be. Once more, my rocker held me during the prickly, steamy, Arkansas July evenings when I watched couples from my second-floor window run, squealing and laughing, carrying lawn chairs going to Lake Degray. By then, when I had finished homework, I discovered that I could read a Harlequin romance in an hour and a half, so three books became my entertainment for the weekend.
Now that I was a working woman, I took my rocker to my first apartment: a 1940s brownstone with pine ceiling, pine walls, and pine floors, and 8-feet tall windows for plenty of light. The first month was so lonely, so I was determined to call all the people I knew whose phone number was written in my address book. The more I talked, the more excited I became, and the faster I would rock. At the end of the month, though, that $400 telephone bill caused me to stop rocking, and I chose not to repeat that little kerfuffle.
This…man with whom I just went out for the third time is sitting in my rocker! Aaaaaand he’s about to break up with me. Great! Story of my life. Wait, what? Oh, he just wants to date casually since he just got out of a serious relationship. Well, I understand completely, and I…I feel the same way. Now, how do I get him out of my chair?
(Casual, my foot.) I don’t care where we put the rocker in our new apartment, I’m not giving it up. He might be my husband, and he might be 10 years my senior, but I’m not a child, and I’m not giving up my rocker. I always thought we were never supposed to go to bed angry. Maybe I’ll rock awhile and pray…for him to not think he knows everything just because he’s older. Maybe I’ll pray for me to have more patience, too.
Not again…Oh, Father God, not again. My hips are sore from fertility shots. We did everything right this time! All the pieces to the puzzle were poised to fit together. The only place I can sit where my hips will not rub against the outside is my rocker. My Bible is open to Jeremiah 29, and I am seeking God with all. my. heart. to give me some answers, some direction, some hope, something.
Someone doesn’t want to go to sleep yet, but he’s soooo sleepy, and his little blue eyes roll back in the sockets so easily could his body give up the fight, but not my wee ginger boy! No? Well, let me introduce you to Mama’s rocker; Mama has rocked many miles for many reasons in this sweet rocker. Can you feel the smooth rocking motion, my little love?
“Sweetheart, all this furniture will never fit inside this house. We have to sell some.”
“I suppose we have no room for the rocker, do we?
“Honestly, no. Besides, don’t you think it’s time to let it go?”
I’ve just said goodbye to my baby’s clothes; must I say goodbye to my rocking chair, too? Only if the need for the chair is greater than my need for its presence. Oh, someone is interested in the rocker, and she’s not quibbling about the price? That’s different! This is the one, isn’t it, Father? A little one needs rocking, and she has no rocker.
My dear little bentwood, you were the dearest thing to me. You hugged me and held me and then held my baby. No more babies are here for you, little chair. But a new mother needs you, so…off you go.