A man is born to be orphaned, and to leave orphans after him, but a chair like that chair, if he can afford it, is a great comfort.
~ Saul Bellow, Herzog
In my parents’ house is a rocking chair that has creaked with the weight of six generations of my family. There’s scroll-work relief on the head board and a crack through the seat that was solidly, if unbeautifully, repaired decades ago. The steam-bent arms are so smoothly worn they trick the fingertips with an impression of cool, liquid softness. It’s not what Bellow had in mind – but it occurs to me that it’s sometimes hard to love the particulars of one’s existence. Love of the actual – which precludes any designs for its improvement – is dearly bought. But all our airy Platonisms to the contrary, it’s only a chair “like that chair” that comforts – if you can afford it.