The Many Lives of Lawn Chairs

A few months ago I went to Boston to visit my friends Stephanie and Marc. Both were classmates and neighbors when I was in graduate school at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and they still live just down the street from the apartment I inhabited from 2007 to 2011.

One evening during my visit, Stephanie and I were walking down to the local grocery store to pick up canned tomatoes and ricotta for dinner’s lasagna, and we passed these blue chairs:

Blue Lawn Chairs

A couple of beat-up plastic lawn chairs on a city sidewalk wouldn’t usually be notable, except these chairs looked familiar. I stopped for a closer look, and then I recognized them: they used to be my plastic lawn chairs. In fact, they were one of my first thrifty DIY projects, circa 2005, when I lived in Durham, North Carolina. It had been over three years since I had last seen them. Hello, old friends.

I originally found the chairs much in the way I encountered them that evening in Boston: discarded by someone on the street. I brought them home, washed them off, and decided to cover the dirt and mildew that refused to relinquish its hold with royal blue spray paint. After three coats they looked bold, shiny, almost new. They looked particularly nice on the porch of the yellow Arts and Crafts bungalow I lived in one year.

Eventually I moved to Boston to get an MFA, and the chairs came with me. The paint had chipped in a number of places, but they still made a nice place to sit and sip a beer on the back deck.

A few months after I graduated, I got ready to move again, this time to New York City, and the chairs were expunged from my collection of personal items along with many, many other things that would not fit in my new apartment. They weren’t the sort of thing you could imagine someone paying money for at the moving yard sale, so on the curb they went.

I guess someone else picked them up, and I guess that they used them, until three and a half years later when they decided to get rid of them. And once again, the pair of lawn chairs found themselves on the curb.

I makes me happy to think of the many lives those two lawn chairs have had, passed along in the curb-furniture economy; the multiple households that took them in, the barbecues and birthday parties and lazy beer-drinking get-togethers they participated in. I hope they get a chance to for a few more.

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