You’ll be the sensible one in the discussion.
“It’s an insane amount of money. We can't afford even part of
“But we can. We have the money.”
“But then we won’t have it."
“But then we’ll have the whole thing. We’ll come home and see it filling
our living room, and we’ll put down our bags and fall into it. The kids
– yours and mine – will climb over it. We’ll have to remind them to put
their drinks on those coasters, but we really won’t care because
the stains will add character to the coffee table. We’ll watch movies on
this couch. We’ll hold family meetings on it – somebody will get in trouble
and we’ll dole out punishment from right here. We’ll talk about
college on it.”
“You’ve thought about this.”
You'll say this in a very middle-aged, seen-everything, charmed way.
I want you to be in love with me because I think in this simple way.
“It’s so much money,” you’ll say. “We can find something much
cheaper, and this sales woman is freaking me out. Is she watching us? I
can’t think. This needs to be a sensible decision.”
“What is sensible about a couch? Nothing. It’s a couch. It’s a life.
It sits in a room and silently witnesses everything. There’s nothing sensible
about purchasing a couch. For this reason alone, it could be the most important
purchase we ever make together."
You’ll raise your eyebrows in a show of disbelief.
I want a history of purchases with you, some good and some bad. I want
to look at something in our home, point at it, and say, “Not a good purchase.”
“You want this because you’re a yuppy. Yuppy yuppy yuppy,” you’ll tease.
You’ll be smiling when you say this because you love this about me,
even while you hate it. Your hair will be coming down a little. I won't
reach over to touch your faint crow's feet, but I will think about it.
We’ll both be at least one day removed from a shower, and we’ll see this
fact as a small rebellion.
“So, we’re getting it then?”
You’ll laugh and tilt your head into the cushion. Lone shoppers with
serious don't-talk-to-me expressions will wander by, looking at the couch
that we’re sitting on. They’ll see the price for the whole set-up and keep
An old couple will shuffle over. The woman will pause, angular and curious,
and she'll point at a small iron bird sculpture on the coffee table. She'll
say to her husband, “Isn’t that interesting.” He’ll nod and grunt.
She'll smile at us, and they’ll shuffle along.
I’ll lean over and, while looking at the still-hovering sales woman,
whisper to you what I want to do to you on the couch. You’ll blush and
You’ll take a deep breath and put a warm hand on my knee.
“Okay,” you’ll say, “let’s get it, the whole set-up.”
“Really?” I'll be genuinely surprised.
You’ll nod, perhaps biting your bottom lip.
“Are you having second thoughts?" you'll say. "There’s nothing sensible
All along, you wanted it. You are not sensible.
I want this. I don’t want other things. I don't want to be too afraid
of us. I don’t want drunken nights and hours left unexplained. I don’t
want lies and arguing, screaming and leaving, hanging up and calling back.
I don't want text wars; please, can we stop the text wars? I don't want
the kids – yours and mine – seeing this insanity. I don't want to think
about the breakthrough moment, 20 years from now, on a therapy couch, when
they each point the crooked finger of blame back to that moment, this moment,
the moment we are in.
I don't want what we already have.
I know things have been hard. I know things have gotten out of hand.
We both have our issues, gigantic and menacing. We’re not middle-aged;
we're children in adult bodies. We've already written entire dysfunctional
road maps, with directions to specific relationship failures. We have no
money; we treat each other poorly. We call each other the exact things
that we know will hurt the most. If we think these things, why are we together?
It’s not sensible.
I just know what I want and what I don’t want.
I want boring nights. I want early bedtimes. I want planned trips to
European capitals. I want an annual trek to New York. I want to sit on
a couch in Pottery Barn and talk about whether or not we should make this
I actually saw a couple doing this. Who does this?
I know what this sounds like. I know how awful it sounds.
I want to eat pho with you after buying the whole set-up, as a celebratory
late lunch. I want to do the crossword together. I want to come up with
a project idea and get excited about it with you. We'll talk on our cell
phones at the same time in the car, interrupting the other with questions
about times, places. Saturday errands will stretch longer than we thought,
and this will be the excitement of our weekend – that things didn’t go
quite as planned. We'll talk about maybe seeing a movie with another couple
that night and then not go. We'll go home and have sex in the late afternoon,
before the kids get home, with the windows open, letting in the sounds
of traffic and breeze.
We'll have dinner in the kitchen at an unconventional time. The kids
will complain about how goofy we’re acting. They'll ask us if we’re stoned
because we’re acting so goofy. But, to be clear, neither one of us will
This is what I want.
I want to fall asleep while watching a Saturday night, hour-long crime
drama. I want to wake in the middle of the night and go down to the kitchen
with you and eat ice cream right out of the carton, even though you don't
allow the kids to do this.
"Why?" I'll say when you repeat that it's not allowed.
"Because it's germy. It's not right. Because," you'll say, offended
in your cotton nightgown. You'll have boundaries like this that are never
broken. I want us to have boundaries. But I don't want to use the word
I want Sunday to arrive without a plan. I want a friend to come over
in the afternoon, unannounced, and in mini-celebration of this I want to
open a bag of lime-flavored chips and pour a bowl of medium-hot salsa,
and I want the entire family and the friend to gather around it, like a
little bonfire for hands and mouths. I want the conversation to focus on
strange, funny, random things that have happened to us.
When the friend leaves, I want to wander out to the front yard. I want
our neighbors – the older couple that likes us because we're younger than
them – to walk by with their big Lab. I'll pick up the dog and hear the
laughter from the older couple because the dog feels funny about being
We'll chat in the yard, dusk seeping over the trees. I'll glance at
you, and we'll know: We love this couple. We need to think of something
we can leave on their doorstep on Christmas Eve. We need to do favors for
them when they start to get too old and weak.
We'll go back inside, to our living room, to our couch. We'll turn on
a movie, with the kids around us, talking over it, telling each other to
shut up. You'll nudge me with your foot, for no apparent reason.
I want the moments to pass, one into the other, and each one carrying
with it a look on your face that is safe, happy, surprised, sad, everything.
I want years to pass like this. I want you to say you want this, too. Of
course you do.
But we are chaos. We are children. We say things. We hurt each other.
We hate each other for it. It’s one thing I love about you.
I want a boring, nothing life that passes practically unnoticed. I want
nothing and everything that is sensible. I want to sit with you on a couch
in Pottery Barn and talk about whether or not we should make this purchase.