In 2008 I bought several pieces of antique furniture. Some of the pieces needed some cleaning up. I started doing little things here and there to clean up the decades’ worth of stuff that had accumulated over the years. And then a little more. And then even more.
As it turns out that kind of detail work is a lot of fun for someone who has a touch of OCD. (Ok, less like a touch and more like a slap but I digress.) I was good at it and it was fun to me.
And at that time, my social anxiety was so severe that I rarely left the house so I had plenty of time to work obsessively on little crevices that had become the home to grime over time. Q-tips and toothpicks and time. It was the beginning of a perfect hobby.
And then I had a stroke. I couldn’t pick up a toothpick much less use it to delicately coerce gunk to get off of my furniture. And it was pretty low on my list of priorities.
Over the past 4 or so years, most of the furniture has been sold or given away. Except the chair.
An old Gunlocke desk chair was listed on Craig’s List for $25. It was in overall good condition. Except for this one thing. It’s a reclining chair and you should be able to adjust how far back it goes by turning a knob under the chair that adjusts the tension in the springs under the chair.
However, that was not the case. Turning the knob did nothing at all so when you sat in the chair it instantly reclined to its fullest extent. And this scared the shit out of people. It scared the shit out of me.
But more importantly it challenged me. I had a problem to fix. I played with it a little. I took it apart, inspected the parts, and put it back together again. I couldn’t see the fix to the problem. So the chair got pushed to the backburner as I worked on a Duncan Phyffe dining table and chairs. I made some progress. And then I stopped working on everything.
Circumstances in my life after the stroke required me to move a few times. And that broken chair moved with me. And I kept saying to myself and others that I would get to it. But the truth is I had no desire to pick up a screwdriver and see my hand fail to be able to control it. And the chair would remind me every time I saw it that I couldn’t do what I used to do, that I wasn’t who I used to be.
Finally, I was able to build up the courage to try. My hand gripped the screwdriver and my wrist turned. It felt so good to see and feel my body doing what it used to do. There were some limitations, of course, but nothing so big that I couldn’t work around it. It was good. I was good.
However, I was still posed with the reclining problem. So I took it apart and put it back together several times. I won’t dive in to the details but will just say that there was this metal plate that seemed to be the problem. I just couldn’t figure out how.
Until a few weeks ago. I finally figured out the puzzle that had been plaguing me for over 4 years. It would have been a “break out the champagne” moment except for one thing. The solution that would fix the problem required welding. Sure it was a tiny bit of welding but any bit is a problem when you don’t know any welders or where to find any welders.
So the chair sat in two pieces in the spare bedroom for a few more weeks as Paige checked with a few people she knew. I was about to give up and post on Facebook a request for anyone who could or knew someone who could fix this chair for me.
Before I did, though, Paige asked her brother who recommended this little business in Fort Worth. We pulled up to a metal building and saw one man working inside. He said that he could do what was needed and it would only cost a little bit. I didn’t have any cash so Paige drove me to a little gas station with an ATM and I pulled out the cash.
By the time we got back, he had already fixed it. I was giddy. So we went home and the only thing left to do was reassemble the chair and see if it worked. I went to work. I’ll admit that I struggled with it a little but did what I could. Paige was kind enough to help me with a few things that required two people.
Then we flipped it over and Paige tried it out. Success! A few minor adjustments were needed but it worked the way it was supposed to. I was so excited! I had figured it out and it felt so good to know that I still had the ability to figure things like that out.
This chair has so much more meaning to me than just a project. It is my 360°. This piece of my puzzle journeyed with me from my life before the stroke to my life afterwards. It is a reminder of what I lost and what I reclaimed. I love this chair.