On Being an Arm-chair Girl in a Motor-boat World

Nov 8, 2011

reading toes

I recently bought a chair.

To be more precise, I bought an arm-chair.

This is no hard-backed dining chair. This is a reading chair, a tuck-in-by-the-window-with-a-stack-of-books-and-a-cup-of-tea-chair.

Full confession: I already had a good reading chair. With its faded green-velvet slipcover, it is soft and welcoming. It even has a small hole on the right arm, an x-marks-the-spot for the exact right place to rest my book. In our Chicago apartment, this chair sat between our third-floor window and a built-in bookcase. The ideal spot for reading; the ideal spot for thinking.

This chair still sits in the living room, but in our Florida house it has no window (the window, in this case, consisting of a sliding-glass door to the screened-in patio). A reading chair with no window is simply no good, in my opinion.

And so, I’ve been on the lookout for a new reading chair.

I’ve long kept its intended spot in mind. Because our Florida home is younger than our Chicago home (oh, by eighty years or so), the only consistently quiet spot in this house is in my bedroom (darn these contemporary “open” floor plans). If the quiet weren’t enough, the windows in this room would confirm it as the ideal place for reading: they are a tall, three-sided embrace for my writing desk with just enough room left over for an arm-chair.

And the view, you ask? Fruit trees, a spreading oak, water, and all kinds of birds.

Of course, as with any big purchase, there was no small amount of hand-wringing and budget-worrying. I want to live simply, but I recognize that my usual standards of comparison have become a bit skewed in a place where every other person appears to own a boat.

I might justify my purchase by saying, “Well, it isn’t as if I’m buying a boat.” And yet, I’ve learned that these two objects may not be all that different.

I know this because I sat next to a boat-owning businessman on my recent flight to Chicago. When he started talking to me about how much he loved living in Florida, I just smiled and nodded. I’ve learned that around here conversations tend to shut down once you admit to being more of a “cold-weather person.” It’s not hostility. Just bewilderment.

As I listened to him describe his weekends on the boat, the slow putt-putting to just the right quiet cove, I realized, with surprise, just how much we actually had in common. I understood that for some boat-lovers at least (and I’m afraid I must entirely exclude jet-ski lovers from this observation) a boat is like an arm-chair you can enjoy out on the water. It’s a place to sit, to hold a nice drink, to observe the glory of our world.

The biggest difference, as far as I can tell, is the cost of maintenance (in time and money). So, I am more than content to be an arm-chair kind of girl.

Still, it’s nice to know that I’m not quite the Florida-coast oddball I thought I was. I may not be a hot-weather person. I may not be a beach-person. I may not be a boat-person, but I know what it is to long for one inspiring, beautiful place.

I know what it is to sit in that place, quietly grateful.


  1. kelli

    Ah, this is why I’m a sailboat girl. At home, I have trouble sitting still in my corner chair for more than five minutes before someone needs something or an unfinished chore calls me away, but on the boat I get to leave all that behind! I sit in a cozy spot topside, enjoying the views and the gentle rocking and the breeze in quiet sails…and Shawn does all the actual boating work and chores:)

  2. Eun Lech

    i so get you….the chair…the cold weather. 🙂


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