My old, orange chair began its life as a different color, and so long ago I no longer have even the slightest recollection of its original print or shade, except that it was definitely not orange (the orange cover arrived by mail, from Sears). It was stuffed with foam rubber, the usual treatment for lower-priced furniture in the 50's and 60's.
It's anybody's guess the first day I discovered the small wooden table leaf, or that it would fit exactly between its arms, but from then forward the chair became my personal throne and drawing bench.
Squished into that orange polyester cockpit is where the best pieces of my mind met paper. Two-man submarines figured heavily in that mix, as did dark and elaborately dangerous funhouses. From here I also mapped out my future (if not highly unlikely) adventures, as well as an plethora of "scientific" notions, their topics ranging from spacecraft to motorcycles to a breed of deadly advanced lasers fashioned from common light blubs. Among others. These were lovingly rendered in pencil, and later by felt tip pen or colored marker, as my budget would allow.
Although my chair also served me as something of a small, privare bubble, it could not completely isolate me from the household events that swirled in shallow orbit. It was a decade in which we packed up and relocated on a pretty regular basis, a new boyfriend or husband entering or exiting with each move. Next we'd moved to a farm in Ferndale, a tattered horse trail of a town near the Canadian border. Here Till re-married for a first time, and then moved to Bellingham when she divorced Don just a year later. We moved back to Sedro-Woolley when she had began dating again, eventually marrying Burt. In another year we moved out yet again - on this occasion just across town - when the new husband took to gambling his paycheck away on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, while my orange chair was no match for bucket seats in James Bonds' Aston Martin, the 007 spy car continued to be one my most extensive and pet projects. This was a vehicle whose arsenal I judged to include far too few machine guns, not to mention ground-to-air missiles, and booby traps and countless other secret weapons still in development by both me and govenmental agencies unknown.
Then came the blueprints for my future Adult Home, a design born by equal parts Playboy magazine and Edgar Allen Poe. A five story A-Frame, it was both a vision only a boy could adore and even believe even possible. Unencumbered by the faintest grasp of architecture (or laws of gravity), my drawings called for the ultimate playhouse, replete with a swimming pool penthouse, sliding bookcases and gothic stained-glass windows that stretched from the ground floor to the astro observatory five stories above. My palace to be.
Despite all of my full-color illustrations, real life was pale. But no matter when or where we moved, my archive of drawings would follow. Eventually this came to be a huge floppy-eared grocery box, which though kicked and clobbered with each subsequent move, protected my orange picture collection like a behemoth cardboard vault.
As had become the norm, our next move arrived again on the cusp of marital dissolution. On this occasion we'd be moving on a Saturday, just across town.
Saturday arrived but, I had privately declared to take this Moving Day off -- my butt hit my bicycle seat and I was gone for the day, who knows where. When I returned later it was nearly dark, with all the packing nearly entirely finished, it seemed. As I rolled my cruiser into a silent driveway, I spotted my mother in the back yard out by the burn barrel, the two of us avoiding both eyes or answers.
It was only weeks later, having settled into our new address on Jameson Street, and all boxes unpacked, that I realized what had actually taken place on that particular Saturday, and in the burn barrel specifically.
So many dreams, up in smoke.
Forty years has shed little wisdom on the wound. Clearly, while there was much we didn't share that long Saturday, my mother had moved to impart a notion that she had long and deeply embraced. As viewed from my own twelve-year-old haze, that notion still remained faint, but was no less impressive.