Saturday, January 12, 2013

Attic Chairs

Up in the attic she climbed one day.
Shoulder to the door she grunted and pressed.
The hinges groaned and moaned.
The dusty door swooned in.
Hidden inside were a herd of old chairs.
All broken and bent.

She carried them down two at a time.
To the bright lights of the dining room.
Her trips numbered past twenty before she was done.
She was a sight, with her hair covered with a kercheif of cobwebs.

The chimes rang on the back door as her brother came in.
"Oh goodness, let me get the truck to haul this trash away for you."

She waved brother away, never taking her eyes off the chairs.
"There is no junk in here, only hurt souls. Y
ou must look past the chipped and scarred surface to see the beauty of the grain underneath."

Brother pressed a chair and it squealed under his touch swaying dangerously. "This one is no good, will never hold anyone."

She looked at him from over her glasses as she brushed the web from her hair. "who said, it had to hold someone, maybe it is meant to dump a smart arse on their arse."

He took the hint and left her to her work.

She sang as she warmed the water and began washing the chairs.
She sang ancient mermaid songs she learned in her dreams.
As her hands passed over the wood she got to know each chairs
strengths and weakness.

She spoke to each chair as she gently wash and rinsed it.
"Together we will find out where you belong."

"Look here," she smiled, as her fingers danced over a prickly spot on the great oak chair. "Puppy teething I imagine."

She shook her head at the thought of someone tossing out this majestic chair over such a small thing.

"Don't worry, she consoled the chair, "You are not being discriminated against, people treat other people with the same callous disregard too."

When at last the chairs were washed she set them in a giant circle to dry.

With rolled up sleeves she set about rubbing oil into each chair.

The work was long and tiresome but she didn't mind, it filled her mind with purpose. One by one the chairs began to sing.
The wood glowed and the grain patterns stood out like lightning against a black sky.

The scars in the wood told many tales. 

There was gum under the seats and few cryptic messages scrawled here and there.

She listened to it all.

All of it, even the dark stories they had to tell.

Once oiled she carried them outside, two by two.
Her trips numbered past twenty before she was done.
She arranged them in a serpentine pattern on the rich green grass.
It had been years and years since the chairs had last seen the bright sun.

My what a sight to see they were!
She smiled and walked around and around them as if playing musical chairs.

Her mother called from the window, interrupting her dance.
"If you are done messing with that useless junk I need you to do some real work."

She halted stunned, slapped by her words.
The music in her heart skipped a beat and stopped.
Her shoulders slumped.

She looked at her reflection in the polished dark wood.
Such beauty there in the wood, if only her mom could see.

"Pile that rubbish by the shed so Dad can haul it away" Mom said disappearing back into the house.

Her trips numbered past twenty before she was done.

When at last she was done she returned inside.
She sat at the table and waited for her life to happen to her.

She didn't have to wait long.

It all happened at once. Brother sat down to join her
and the chair pitched and bucked and he flew to the floor.

Dad opened the paper and leaned back to flop into his easy-chair,
only to do a somersault over the small broken chair there.

Mother screamed as she sat on the vanity chair and the sharp splintery wood gouged a divot in her backside.

She smiled and got up. "I am tired of being invisible in this house! In this life! My family treats me furniture  I think you will toss me out when I am broken and scarred."

They gathered and took note the good kitchen chairs were all gone, replaced with the attic chairs.

"Family I need to know you love me, need to know you understand the complexities of my head." She sobbed. "Stop raising me, I am grown. I am way past childhood, I need to know more. I need to know you love me." She echoed. 

There was deafening silence.

"How do we do that?" Asked Mom. "I tell you I love you all the time."

She reared up, "You tell me go to bed, you tell me go to school, you tell me to eat, you tell me to do this, you tell me to do that, you tell me you love me too, as if it is just another chore on the list, just another sound track in your head. I am learning who I am, I am discovering the depth of my mind and emotions, I feel alone in this journey. I do not feel connected with the family or anyone for that matter. I feel like no one knows me...really knows me."

Slowly her family sat in the freshly washed chairs and rested their hands on the table. 

"I feel like an orphan in my own family. We are all strangers here. We are polite and pleasant, and speak to each others surface, DARN IT! SPEAK TO ME, the me inside, the me who is struggling and grappling with these emotions. Stop being pleasant and start being real. You can show me you love me by opening your heart and listening to me. Just listen. Make and effort to get to know me. Find out about my hopes and fears. I need to feel needed, and accepted for who I am, not who you want me to be."

She waited for an answer.

It wasn't the answer she was wanting.


Dad eyed her. "So what is for dinner? Your cooking tonight arn't you?"

Brother grabbed his jacket and bailed out the door.

She stood there frozen. Had she not spoken aloud? "PEOPLE, did you not hear me?!"

"Quite being so dramatic. Life isn't about you." Said her mom, as she headed out to rescue her furniture.

She sat gently down upon the old chair. "I feel like a chair. I feel like I was once a mighty tree that was fell, My good parts cut away and sold, the inferior parts bent and twisted and forced to conform to a pattern, just to please the long as I am useful and pretty I am taken care of. Once I change and develop my own characteristics, I am sold or toss out. We are not a family...we are a matched set of furniture." 

Dad puts his hand across the table and takes her.

She smiles glad she finally got through.

He presses a 50 dollar bill in her hand, "If you arn't cooking then order pizza"

Her trips numbered past twenty before she was done.
She and the chairs simply just vanished.
Like a ghost she haunted the house.
No one saw her, and no one noticed she was missing.
It ate holes in her heart that no one cared.

When she came of age she simply stepped out one day,
not really knowing where she was going.
Like a long caged bird she just saw the open door and flew.
Her family didn't even wave goodbye.

It was months later that her family spoke of her.
Dad simply mentioned one night "I see she finally got rid of all
those trashy chairs in the attic."

After that she faded from their memories.

Her age numbered past twenty before she was done wandering about. She found a high fortress and barricaded herself in behind a wall of old chairs. She let the chairs get dusty and the rich wood dry out and splinter. It was a formidable fence and no one dared climb it.

The loneliness was profoundly painful.
Sometimes she cut her skin just
to see if she was in.

Sure she worked with people and rode the bus with people,
shopped at stores with people, but no one really saw her.
They just saw her image, just like her family did.
Sure she had friends, but she kept them all at a distance and outside of her chair wall.

The darkness every night amplified the pain.

"I just want someone to need me" she told the chairs. "I know I do not belong to that family, but darn it, I want to belong somewhere."

She grew and ventured out and started therapy. Having someone validate her feelings was a powerful healing step.

"I want my family to come after me!" she sobbed one session.
"I want them to make the effort to contact me and be a part of my life."

Her Therapist stared her down. "can I tell you a secret?" 

She dried her eyes intrigued at the sound of this. "sure"

"One isn't born into a family. One chooses a family."

She pondered this for a moment.

Her Therapist continued. "Your mom and dad found each other and hooked up and created a love seat. T
hey then gave birth to a lazy boy-recliner and a carved cherry-wood elegant 16th century sit-upon. There is no room in any house for that mix and match furniture. You need to find the rest of the set you belong to. Quit trying to fit in there."

"Are you saying that all my wants and needs will never be met by my birth family?"

Her Therapist nodded gently. "what you wish your mom would give you, you will not get from her, but from someone else."

"Is this the way it is for everyone?"

"It is the way for far too many of us." frowned the Therapist.

She found as the years past and she grew and healed, that as the pain lessens she was able to remove some of the protecting chairs from her walls.

No they were not abandoned, but as she extended trust to another they were gifted with a chair. They took the chair as a precious gem and honored the meaning behind it.

Oh on occasion she trusted and gave a chair, only to have the receiver smash and shatter the delicateness of the beauty. But she learned and didn't shut down, just moved on and tried again.

Till at last she sat with only a few chairs between her and world.
She combed her hair and drew it back and once again 

as she had long ago
set out and washed the chairs,
dried them,
singing ancient mermaid songs she learned in her dreams.
She oiled them and carried them out to dry in the sun.

she laid in the grass and marveled at the sheer beauty of her attic chairs. The light of the sun warmed her skin.
But it also revealed the scars.

She was no different than the scarred chairs who surrounded her.
They were all waiting silently for someone to bring them home.

She smiled. Really smiled. Realizing for the first time. She was at peace within herself.

She heard Therapist's words echoing in her heart. "It is the way for far too many of us." 

"I will fix that." she said aloud to the chairs, her heart aching with compassion. 
"if we are all looking for our family, If we are all drifting in this sea of loneliness, and disconnectedness, then I will fix it."

She sat up and gathered her chairs and set off into life once again.
Her trips numbered past seven before she was done.

She was true to her word. Though she couldn't fix the problem itself.

She offered a chair to all she met. 

a place to sit
a moment of her time.
an ear to listen,
a hand to hold.

She simply treated all she met and in countered as if they
were family.

Her heart began to lighten and see the simple beauty in all she met.
Some were her family for only a moment.

The sad little girl with the hungry eyes in the grocery store she smiled at.

The tried old man on the bus she sat next to and listed to a a few blocks.

The exhausted mother in line at the grocery store she spoke to.

By giving she received. By being willing to risk she gained. She began to collect treasure more valuable than any tangible item on earth. She was collecting moments with other.

He came on day and stared for a long time at her chairs. "I see one I must have" he said to her.

He weaved through the chairs and took her into his arms.
"I need this one to complete my set." he said

She was frightened for a moment, "but I am scarred and I have rough edges and...and ..."

"And," he finished for her, "you are afraid of the unknown."


He turned and gestured behind him. She peered over his broad shoulder.

He had is own pile of attic chairs too.

"the way I see it," he gently smiled, "is that you are coming home."

She was no longer afraid. He was choosing her, and she choose him.

Their trips numbered past twenty before they were done.
Then they took one trip down an isle.
Their house was filled with many attic chairs
all polished and shining
and there never was a lack of souls to sit upon them and share the
journey of life with them.



  1. That is beautiful...Its exactly how I feel. Still searching for my matching set...Very emotional...


  2. Paja, your writing skills are remarkable. I wish I could write as eloquently as you do.

    Bless you and your "ministry" to others. Keep sharing the chairs of mercy, forgiveness to the guy who jumps the line at a store and his item has no price so he keeps others waiting for 15 minutes, and to the small child who just needs a smile.


  3. Thank you for your story. You have quite a gift!


  4. i loved your story paja! i remember for whom this was written.
    peace be your journey!

  5. Fabulous message! Very well done.