Thursday, February 3, 2011

Saying goodbye, why is it sad...a story about a girl and her sofa

You got me. I borrowed the line (the first 2 anyway) from the movie Muppets Take Manhattan. Great film. Kermie and Miss Piggy are an underrated classic love story of our time.

What? This is about furniture.

Since I have lived in Israel, I have been lucky enough to have had, when I arrived, some people hand me down, me downs.  I got an old, leather, light grey sofa bed (proper US sofa bed on springs with a mattress), and a matching side chair. All old and worn, but in good condition and no musty smell. Score.

When you make Aliyah, there are so many more expenses that you don't quite...plan for.  Everything is unbelievably, illogically expensive. So anything you get for free is helpful. I did however, buy the coffee table pictured from Ikea-new.  It seems to be the law in Israel. You must have a piece from Ikea or you won't belong. ooopa!

Old Furniture and Lila the Ficus
FYI- That is my beautiful tree when I first got her in 2007.  Originally name Stewie due to the oddly shaped leaf formation, but as tree puberty hit, Stew morphed into a tall willowy delicate tree with long branches full of green leaves and when I transferred him from the original orange plastic pot from the nursery into a more appropriate and lovely, tall, teal and green glazed ceramic planter, she was reborn Lila- a name I have always loved (and has been my belly dancing name for many years "Lila Tov").  Ruby -most likely would have been named Lila as she is black as night, but I had named the foster puppy before her and it wasn't my turn for naming.  Anyway- Lila the Ficus now sits on my porch, gathering up the sun, her branches raising to meet the light and using the excuse of rain to throw temper tantrums- as is the temperament of the Ficus- by throwing her leaves all over the floor each time the seasons change.

Bout 3 years back, when my ex and I were moving into our new apartment, some friends gave us their parents  20+year old table and chairs.  We happily took it- as I had spent my first 2+ years in Israel eating over a coffee table and feeling like a little old lady hunching over as I ate. Ouchie. Don't get me wrong, as a starter set- they were free and suited my purpose just fine. But, I like beautiful things the way men like beautiful women (and they call us shallow?) and here was the perfect table at the perfect price. 

Life was hectic, Life was busy, Life was expensive.  3 years later-lots had changed in my life but that 'temporary' table was still in my apartment.  By now- the legs of the wooden retro chairs looked a little bit more worn- Ruby had used them as teething sticks when she was a puppy and the legs were all gnawed at, so that if your foot might temporarily graze the wrong spot, one might end up with a splinter or two. It became a game of chance for my toes, with my toes inadvertently losing. Sure, I tried to sand the legs down. I used light sandpaper, heavy sandpaper, rubbed the chairs to smooth them both by hand and with a sanding machine.  These chairs though, they didn't want to be altered.  I can appreciate that. 20+ years in one state.  I left the chairs alone. They earned their right to maintain their status.

But, after 5 years, I finally decided I earned my right to give into my anal side, get some new furniture- that was straight, even, neat and maybe even a little bit more my personal style.

My dream sofa- 9,500nis.
Not the easiest feat in Israel. Stylish furniture is beyond expensive. A velvet sofa with a bed inside in the US might cost between $500-1000.  In Israel a gorgeous velvet sofa- no sofa bed- would cost 9,000nis. About $2,300.  The average salary in Israel is 7,500nis. So..nix the velvet sofa idea and be practical.

Since many people who make Aliyah leave after purchasing new flat screen tv's, new Ikea furniture, etc, I decided to try my hand and peruse all the Anglo sites.  When you are trying to leave the country quickly, you need to sell you stuff fast. This usually mean at least 25%-50% off.  In these tight economic times- I decided it was the way to go.

MONTHS AND MONTHS. Nothing.  I did score a gorgeous plum colored sofa for my friend Gilad at half the original price.  He was so happy, he wrote me a song. Just kidding. Well, he did write me a song, but not because of the sofa, because I am his muse. Damn cool.  Always wanted to be a muse.

...A couple of weeks ago, I answered an ad for a woman leaving Israel. She was selling all her furniture and I clicked on her link and was instantly filled with shock and happiness.  Her dining table and chairs were Shabby Chic style. I emailed her-"I want it".  Didn't know the price, didn't know if there were any imperfections. Not sure I cared. I was so excited to see something I liked that did not require Ikea assembly and aggravation that their materials pucker and bubble at the first drops of water, something fairly foolish for an overpriced dining table.

I also decided to let my pal Keren convince me to hit the street market near "Tachanat Ha mercazit"- a bustling series of streets known for their cheap, fast, custom made pieces of furniture.  Walk in to shop, select shape of sofa, pour through material racks, select sofa material, argue over price, 3 free pillows, pour over more racks of material, select 3 separate pillow materials, convince (aka let Keren convince) shop to allow 3 separate materials for 3 separate pillow, rethink the material for the sofa, have Keren negotiate for a great price. Sign, sealed, Arriving in 2 weeks. Talking about getting new sofa-over a year. Actively deciding to go look for a new sofa- 1 week.  Time spent on purchase- 1 hour. Rock on.
Last Thursday night- the table, chairs and other bits arrived.

 I scrambled to push all the old furniture out of the way- 

Old table

And say hello to the new improved dining area....
New Shabby Chic Table
Friday morning, I wake up excited as ever to see my new table.  Changes like these are like unwrapping presents over and over again.  I grab Ruby for an extra long Friday morning speedwalk/dog park session.  An hour and a half into it, I get a call. "Your furniture is ready, we are coming to deliver it!" a raspy, overly aggressive voice shouts to me in Hebrew. "Wait, what?, they said it would take another week, my house is full of furniture".  'Well, we are coming today or Sunday'. No argument. Bastards.

Welcome to the land of Milk, Honey and total inconvenience. "Ok, I'll be home in an hour".  Ruby and I finish our session and head home breathless and a little excited.  I start pushing my old sofa and chair out to my porch to try and make room.  At this rate, my apartment is starting took like one of these furniture shops. As I huff and puff to move the furniture through the apartment, I slip and stumble. I remember thinking-"oh just a stumble", until my knee smashed to the ground and my ass followed suit. "Ahh" I said and then thought of this and started cracking up.  Nothing better than having a good laugh on your own, even as your knee is dripping blood.

Furniture arrived.  Movers here love to complain about everything.  I live on the second floor- and the sofa was very light and arrived in 2 pieces, not to mention the hefty moving fee I paid- so pity, I had not.  I paid them, served up some fine lemonade and sent them on their way, but not before discovering one of the pillows was the wrong color.  Of course the movers told me it was my mistake and showed me the invoice- "it says a yellow pillow".  I told them that they were wrong "nope- it clearly says Turquoise, not yellow and besides this pillow is BROWN".  Israeli's will never admit when they are wrong.  Ah well, a 2 minute phone call to the shop and they said they would take care of it.  Ok- for Israeli customer service, getting an item early and them correcting a mistake is a miraculous event- even if it means I need to go bring back the wrong pillow and pick up my hopefully- correctly, corrected pillow tomorrow.

Ruby relaxing on the new sofa
My apartment was looking amazing! Neat and chic with colorful pillows strewn jauntily about. I threw down my area rug (bc it so ties the room together) and moved my gorgeous walnut and glass coffee table onto it.  I did a bunch of trading for this coffee table and it is dear.

What to do with my old furniture.  It was in good condition and deserved a good home.  I went online and got to work posting on Anglo and Israeli sites.  While posting, I felt some deep pangs of sadness and separation. Strange to have so much sentiment for furniture but for me, the furniture signified a life altering decision to move from NYC to Tel Aviv Israel, thousands of miles away from friends and family.  It was where maybe 35-40 foster dogs climbed and played and where my ex and I used to cuddle and kiss when we first met. Pathetic truth be told, I always thought we would keep that sofa and use it in a room where kids could come in, play around and go bananas. The sofa marked my Israeli history, but none of that came to fruition and I was rewriting history yet again. I needed to move it all out.

I got a bunch of calls over the week and then finally, someone actually came to see it. 2 newbie roommates looking to inexpensively furnish their new rental.  I had a date the night they came- who was early, so he came and hung out, chatting easily with the potential buyers, then, with a subtlety I was not expecting, he moved into the kitchen and made a phone call to let me handle my things without interruption.  Hmm, nice.

Tomorrow morning-the sofa, side chair, dining table and chairs are going to be moved out of my home, closing a chapter in the history of my life, the story of my Aliyah, my happiness, some stress,some bittersweet experiences, new friends, my renewed health and finally back again, my happiness.

It is time to record the next generation of Aliyah-ers history.

Over and Out.

1 comment:

  1. Nothing quite as cathartic as cleaning house! Custom sofa - sweet!