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Coming Home: Life and love look different for do-it-yourselfers

A new couch was delivered to our house yesterday.In almost 10 years of marriage, we've never had a new couch. In fact, the ratio of new to used furniture in this house prior to yesterday was like four to 20, the new pieces being Edie's nursery fu...

Jessie Veeder
Jessie Veeder

A new couch was delivered to our house yesterday.

In almost 10 years of marriage, we've never had a new couch. In fact, the ratio of new to used furniture in this house prior to yesterday was like four to 20, the new pieces being Edie's nursery furniture, the worn-out recliner we bought the week after we were married on a trip to one of my concerts in South Dakota that we passed off as a honeymoon, and the bar stools that were a little too big for our space, but we couldn't pass up, because, you know, they were on super sale.

The rest of our living space is furnished with hand-me-downs and garage sale finds, classified ads and things left behind.

And so when guests started to get stuck in the cracks of the deep-sunk couch we bought from one of our landlords eight years ago, we thought it might be time to take the furniture plunge.

Turns out, for a couple who has survived on other people's cast-off items for years, we're sorta picky. It must be the whole "we're spending lots of money so we better love this forever and never, ever spill wine on it" mentality.

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Anyway, our track record with furniture could really sum up the way the two of us have been dealing with grown-up life. I was contemplating this as I stood resting my noodle arms on our new couch as it lay in limbo, half on the landing and half wedged in the door, while my husband searched for a tool to take the door off its hinges.

We will never be people who hire movers.

No. We are the people who save every random nut, bolt and spare piece of plastic in an old coffee can on the tool bench because we might need it someday.

Our garage and the room in the basement that we don't let anyone see will always be a scary place full of useful things ... if only we could remember where we put them.

I blame it on our fathers. While completely different, both held the same mentality when it came to saving money and squeezing every bit of life out of the things they owned. Neither one of them ever saw a stray bucket on the side of the road without stopping to load it in the back of the pickup.

It makes sense. I was raised by a North Dakota rancher who could make anything work good enough with a pair of leather gloves and a spare piece of wire.

And my husband was raised by a man who had a garage full of things like extra doorknobs, old, out-of-warranty power tools and a couple extra lawn mowers, you know, for parts.

I mean, the man built his own croquet set for crying out loud. My husband didn't stand a chance.

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So I wasn't surprised when, in college, my washing machine went out and my then boyfriend/now husband had at least three washing machine motors laying around in storage.

I tell you, it's a special type of romance to love a man with the skills to save you from the laundromat. If only I would have known that years later it would turn into me painstakingly putting up tiles on the kitchen island while my husband made 500 trips up and down the ladder leading to the dirt basement, because we still needed to build steps. And pour the concrete floor.

Ourselves.

I'm here to tell you that sometimes the "do it yourself" movement is only romantic when your car is broke down on the side of the road and he shows up with a toolbox and pops the hood.

Stay married long enough and it turns out he might expect you to know how to fix it yourself. Because apparently that sort of thing should wear off on you.

But if together we can get this couch through the doorway, past the bedrooms and around the corner to the living room without me pulling every muscle along the way, perhaps it's a sign we're turning a corner in our lives.

And the old couch will work great in the basement ... once we get it finished.

 

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Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughter on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. Readers can reach her at jessieveeder@gmail.com .

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