The Chawch

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Photo by David Nightingale

* The above photo is by the talented photographer David Nightingale of Chromasia. If you haven’t already seen his work, hop to it! Or maybe read this story and then pop over there. He is so good you might forget to come back. So maybe read this story and then come back. Yes, do that.
……….

And since I am dispensing advice today, I have another little bit for you: Don’t ever name something {even an inanimate object} you might someday want to get rid of.

I don’t remember exactly how our couch got a nickname. I think it was from my friend’s daughter who called the couch “the chouch” {pronounced: Chowch} which I rather liked and adopted for a while. Matt liked it too, and as with all nicknames we love, they morph and devolve into other nicknames like “Chawch” “Chacho” “Joanie loves Chachi” and the ever favorite salutation “Meet you on The Chawch!”

About a year ago, my sister passed along a very pretty green velvet couch to us when she was moving. We were thrilled. Our torn, stained, faded, pin-striped, pseudo preppy couch would finally hit the curb. Little did we know we’d feel so conflicted about it.

And I’m convinced it wasn’t the couch. It was in the naming of the thing that had all the power. All the sentimentality, all the memories, all the juice, lived somehow in the name. Did I mention not to name anything you might one day throw away?

As we moved it outside and put a poster on it: “Free! Gratis!” we got a little sentimental. I don’t know about Matt, but I know I said a little prayer that The Chawch would go to a good home.

We went inside and looked out the window at it sitting on the sidewalk. People passed by without a glance, or they would check it for cleanliness and comfort and then keep going. Our hearts sank.

“I can’t watch anymore,” I declared and we closed the blinds.

The next morning we looked outside hoping to see an empty sidewalk, but no, the worst possible scenario occurred. Someone had stolen the cushions to sleep on (this happens a lot in SF) and now the couch was worthless, cushionless and unadoptable. We were crushed and picked up the phone to call the recycling place.

We felt like we had to flush our pet goldfish down the toilet.

Our new couch is also named “The Chawch.” But if we ever get another one, we will never be able to kick it to the curb again. We will work tirelessly to find a home for it. That is the responsibility that comes with giving something a name.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

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28 Comments

  1. julia

    Oh Andrea…I am so glad to hear that someone else(me)names objects and possessions. I guess I come by it honestly, we always named the family car when I was growing up. We had this huge Chrysler that everyone said was monsterous, gas guzzler. Us kids just call ed it the “boat.” Funny how when it was time to call the auto wrecking place and have it towed away…my cousin, best friend and me all cried. Also, the cast off chair I had in my first Apt. became “real” because of a name. At first it was the “Orange thing.” But after a bit, when anybody came over, I’d say, “just have a seat on “Orangey” over there.” Needless to say “orangey” became the best seat in the house, and people actually wanted to sit on her. (I mean it). That chair truly took on a life of it’s own. When it wore out I was really sad, and for a long time, wherever I lived, my livingroom just didn’t feel the same! Here’s to the power of a name!…. great post! 🙂

  2. Marjorie

    Have you read the Velvetine Rabbit? All you have to do is love something to make it real.

  3. Anonymous

    It’s true….
    in my house, we have Sick Orange. Sick Orange is hideous, badly designed and terribly squeaky. We love him dearly.

  4. Anonymous

    It’s true….
    in my house, we have Sick Orange. Sick Orange is hideous, badly designed and terribly squeaky. We love him dearly.

  5. Anonymous

    It’s true….
    in my house, we have Sick Orange. Sick Orange is hideous, badly designed and terribly squeaky. We love him dearly.

  6. Anonymous

    It’s true….
    in my house, we have Sick Orange. Sick Orange is hideous, badly designed and terribly squeaky. We love him dearly.

  7. Anonymous

    It’s true….
    in my house, we have Sick Orange. Sick Orange is hideous, badly designed and terribly squeaky. We love him dearly.

  8. Anonymous

    It’s true….
    in my house, we have Sick Orange. Sick Orange is hideous, badly designed and terribly squeaky. We love him dearly.

  9. Anonymous

    It’s true….
    in my house, we have Sick Orange. Sick Orange is hideous, badly designed and terribly squeaky. We love him dearly.

  10. Anonymous

    It’s true….
    in my house, we have Sick Orange. Sick Orange is hideous, badly designed and terribly squeaky. We love him dearly.

  11. Anonymous

    It’s true….
    in my house, we have Sick Orange. Sick Orange is hideous, badly designed and terribly squeaky. We love him dearly.

  12. James

    “When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
    The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
    His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
    Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:”
    (ts eliot The Naming of Cats)
    meow!

  13. kate

    i put a photo with your lovely superhero necklace on my blog, hope you don’t mind…

  14. Lora

    Perhaps, it is that we only name the things we love; we make it our own. And it’s name simply gives us a way in which to express that love.

  15. jenn

    Andrea,
    My first car was named “Sarah” and I loved her. I was able to get her for only $1100 from an older man {she was a toyota wagon}. My friends and I always spoke to the car when we got in and out. “Hello Sarah, Good bye Sara.” I was still in high school at the time, and lucky enough to be the first in the group with a car. We used this car for everything. One day while driving a man came out of a parking lot without looking and hit me. My car was gone, just like that. My friends and I had such a hard time losing that car. We all went through this strange letting go period. I’ve always believed this was because I named her. I don’t think we would have cared as much if we hadn’t named her. I’ve never named a car since.
    Jenn

  16. kristal

    Just the other day, I was driving and saw a big pink couch on the side of the road. I stopped to take a picture and my oldest daughter was horrified. The owners were cleaning their yard and saw us stop.
    “Mom, they are going to see you.”
    “So? They put it out on the street. Why would they care?”
    “Mom, it was their COUCH. Just because they threw it away doesn’t mean they don’t love it. Would you stop to take a picture of their kid if he was DEAD? WOULD YOU?”
    A little melodramatic, but the point was made. Even abandoned things hold sentimental value to someone.
    I still took the picture.
    http://www.kristyk.org/index.php/weblog/i_wonder_if_this_pink_monster_had_a_name/

  17. danielle

    Andrea ~ I had to go through the same thing last January. I inherited my grandfathers couch after he passed. It was the one I would sleep on when I stayed with him at his retirement village. Last month, when we purchases the big family sectional, we tried to give away my grandfather’s old couch to EVERYONE we knew. I felt like wanted to interview the people I had in mind for it. Alas, no one was interested. We ended up giving it to a local womens shelter. Somehow that made me feel better as I was shouting care instructions down my driveway as the driver pulled away. The worst part… pieces of the new sectional still have not arrived! Grrrrr. My family and I have been piling on the corner tiny corner section for 12 weeks! Its like Karma for Kouch-y! Great post. Love your site. ~ danielle

  18. Brenda in Toronto

    Once again I don’t feel alone in my habits! I too name things, and I too get choked up when their time has come. And like Jenn above, I greeted my old car too! I cried when I had to give her up – she was with me for 10 very formative years 🙂

  19. mikaelah

    Great post, as usual! Thank you Andrea. Naming is a big subject for me and I learned from reading this and your lovely comments section more about why it works and why it is important. I have the distinction in the family for naming cats (and just about anything that needs a name). I like that I know it is important to get the name right. When a name really fits like a glove the love can’t leak out. My son’t stuffed cat is named “big tiger” and I overheard someone making fun of it and saying “not very original” and I felt like telling him … it’s not about how “original” it is …it about if it fits. If you knew “big tiger” like we do you would realize that nothing else would capture him or hold the love like that name does. Yeah. I get real territorial on names 😉 -mik

  20. kerstin

    i like the chawch story. and wow david n’s photos are so delicious!! thank you.

  21. meb

    This reminds me of “The Little Prince”…the fox tells the boy to always remember that “you are responsible for what you tame.”

  22. andrea

    I love it! yes, it is strange how naming objects can lend such personality… personally, I am always so sad about the removal of our christmas tree each year. we don’t name it or anything, but it has been so loved and adorned and part of our special celebration that it seems like such betrayal to remove it from our home (even though it’s being recycled)… silly, I know.
    also, thanks for turning me on to david n.– stunning work.

  23. m

    my mother has a dishwasher called Jemima and has caused confusion with guests who think she has some kind of cleaning lady on standby to do the dishes!

  24. Jessica Kenenske

    That reminds me of a children’s book called “The Old Woman Who Named Things” by Cynthia Rylant. You should read it, it’s wonderful.

  25. djn1

    I’m glad you could put my picture to such good use 🙂

  26. akd

    Great photo, great story. Anyone who wants to release their well-loved objects to another loving home would do well to post them up for grabs at http://www.freecycle.org! It’s a sure-fire way to find someone who wants what you have to give away..

  27. denise

    in college my roommate and I inherited a big, blue, velvet couch from her parents. it was huge and took up most of the living room. we spent hours and hours watching mtv on big blue.
    one particular night we had met some cute guys at a party and they had come home with us. the guy my friend was with barely spoke all evening [we assued it was because he was Hispanic and didn’t seem to know much English] but as he was leaving he stopped and looked at big blue and said “eh, you gotta nice couch.” to this day we talk about our nice couch and thinking about big blue right now makes me miss him

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