Categories: China, Community, Faith



I’ll be honest, I really hadn’t factored in the cost when I moved to China. But had I been asked if uncomfortable furniture was something I was willing to live with, I’m sure I would of snorted at you and said, “of course,” trying to hide my disdain for asking a question so below me, below the cause.

In all fairness, it wasn’t like the school where my teammate and I lived was holding out on us.  Comfortable furniture wasn’t a cultural value. There simply wasn’t furniture to buy.

Fast forward to the release of a crazy woman after four years of only having two Mao chairs whose springs had bring sprung for as long as Mao was no longer part of this world.  They sat next to each other, separated by the ubiquitous table.

Our school mentioned that they were going to buy us new furniture.

You know how teenage girls can go on and on about boys? Add 15 years and substitute “furniture” for “boys” and you get the picture of how obsessed we became with sitting somewhere comfortable.

As culturally appropriately as possible, we offered to help pick out the new couch (yes, yes, yes! A couch) and chairs. It’s hard to be gentle and subtle and helpful when you are frothing at the heart for something. We did try. We did. But looking back and knowing China better, we were as subtle as a two-year-old stuck on an idea. There is no way they were going to take us.

And they didn’t.

And the wooden couch and chairs that replaced Mao’s legacy didn’t seem like a hopeful representative of the new open and reformed world we were living in. After months of wondering and hoping and dreaming, we returned after the summer holiday to seating that was a lateral move in comfort at best.

Oh they had cushions. They did.

Imagine thin lawn chair cushions in your living room. Emphasis on thin. Emphasis on hard. Emphasis on not being a lawn chair outside. Emphasis on disappointment.

When I’d visit Beijing my colleague Becky lived in an apartment at the Friendship Hotel and owned a sofa that became for me the pinnacle of adulthood furniture. It has wooden legs (classy), was green and cream stripped (fashionable), and was not wooden or sprung (comfortable). I loved that sofa.

She left Beijing a few months before I moved to Beijing and sold me that couch.

It was a modern day fairy tale where the girl got the prince charming of seating!

And if it were a fairy tale we’d end here.

But it’s not. Tomorrow we’ll continue the story of what a couch can mean.

Until then, how about sharing a fairytale-esque story from your life.

Leave A Comment

  1. CQ MB November 19, 2012 at 9:45 am - Reply

    love this! “comfortable furniture is not a cultural value.”
    My how far things have come, with an Ikea in every first tier city!

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      Amy November 19, 2012 at 10:02 am - Reply

      No kidding :)

  2. jkpittman November 19, 2012 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    This is going to be good.

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      Amy November 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      Let’s hope!

  3. Becky November 19, 2012 at 9:25 pm - Reply


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      Amy November 19, 2012 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Wish you’d been here to raise a glass to her!

  4. Erika November 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    I too had a couch that has a storied history, and its story has started a new chapter with a new home: a high school band room.

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      Amy November 20, 2012 at 6:17 am - Reply

      I bet she’s being well loved!

  5. Katie Spohr November 20, 2012 at 2:26 am - Reply

    I have great memories of that couch! Dare I ask, is it going to get a facelift? Or is it saying goodbye? (That would be sad!) Can’t wait to find out!

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      Amy November 20, 2012 at 6:18 am - Reply

      And she has fond memories of you :-)

  6. Kristi November 22, 2012 at 7:22 am - Reply

    I had lots of second hand (third and fourth hand as well) stuff in the States. I called my decor eclectic, but it was really garage sale with 4th grade teacher on top! I either gave my future away or left in in my old apartment for the most part. I saved two pieces. The first was a American colonial looking coffee table and the second was a drop leaf table that could fit four people comfortably. The coffee table functioned as my desk, food rest, library, dinner table etc. I used if for everything. The drop leaf table I only used for company and later to support a small Christmas tree. The main reason I kept both (their in my parents’ garage) is that my dad refinished them. He took my flea market/used furniture store bargains and made them into things of beauty. As I type this it reminds my how my heavenly Father takes my used pieces and makes them into something beautiful! Thanks for the post, Amy. :)

    • Kristi November 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      furniture they’re

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      Amy November 22, 2012 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      Yes, yes, yes!

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