Books and vases on retro cabinet next to comfortable sofa with pillows

During a global pandemic, family sofas have gained a bigger place in the landscape of daily life.

My wife and I have gotten a new couch, a major development in our household in this season of COVID-19.

Like everyone else touched by social distancing, we’ve been spending a lot more time at home. When life’s landscape is largely the living room, a new sofa is apparently what passes these days for a change of scene.

But even without a pandemic, a new couch would still be a big deal for us. We keep furniture and appliances a long time, so the arrival of a delivery truck in our driveway is as eventful as a papal visit.

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We had bought our previous sofa in 2003, when our son was 3. It had barely emerged from the carton when he found some scissors and tested them on the armrest covers. We banished the scissors to a high shelf and discarded the ruined covers, leaving the new couch to face life’s adversities without its protective garb.

On that sofa, our brood saw its own share of troubles. One of the small ironies of life is that the family couch, built for comfort and security, is often the place where couples and children get bad tidings, too.

Each evening, my wife and I sit on the couch and watch the news. I often feel, as we settle into our familiar spots and flip on the TV, that we’re boarding a raft to ride the rapids, bracing ourselves for treacherous curves.

For nearly two decades, our old couch carried us through the uncertain current of current events. It was there, in 2005, that we learned a hurricane named Katrina was approaching. On that couch, in 2008, we saw the stock market plunge. Last year, on that sofa, we heard about a strange virus taking lives in China — and possibly heading our way.

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But couches can contain many good memories, too.

Our old sofa was the workbench where we folded mounds of laundry, arranging towels and socks and school uniforms into endless stacks as “The Sopranos,” “Pride and Prejudice” or “Frasier” reruns kept us company. That sofa was where our two children brought home their first boyfriends and girlfriends. On that couch, we observed our Christmas Eve tradition of watching “Elf.”

Our daughter and son are away now, the pile of laundry smaller, the interior decor showing its age. With more time to reflect on our rooms during the lockdown, my wife decided the time for a new sofa had come.

When the new couch arrived, we plopped down in our usual places, surprised by the youthful spring of cushions that haven’t yet learned to yield to middle-aged bottoms.

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Here, as dusk arrives, two empty-nesters now sit and watch the news — hopeful, after a quarter-century of marriage, that they can navigate whatever hairpin turns the world might bring their way.

Perched on that immaculate upholstery, I’ve also hoped I’m not the first one to spill something.


Email Danny Heitman at danny@dannyheitman.com.