I've lived with two people. Well, not true. I've had a million roommates at different points of my life. But I've lived with two. And I was deeply in love with both of them. The first one, the Actor, and I met in undergrad in Cincinnati. Together we moved from Cincinnati to Los Angeles. It's where actors go. The second, the Agent, I met years later. In a bar.
After we graduated, The Actor and I rented a little apartment in Hollywood, and one afternoon, we set out on a trip to Ikea to furnish our little Hollywood apartment. We bought a green couch, a coffee table, an entertainment center, a dining room table with four matching chairs, and planters, and silverware, and a salmon colored vase, and a spice rack. I'm sure there's other stuff I'm not remembering.
Near the end of our Ikea spree, we land in the art section. The Actor pulls out a really ugly picture with the green frame. He's grinning ear to ear.
"Can we get it?" he asks.
"Um. Honey, I don't think you're supposed to buy art work at Ikea."
"Why not?" he asks.
"Well, because...you're just not. Because then our apartment will look like everyone else's. Because it doesn't mean anything if you buy it from Ikea."
The Actor looks disappointed. "But what if I really really like it?"
I stared at him. He was beautiful. He was perfect. He was the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Needless to say, we got the picture. I actually contemplated getting two.
We lived there for about three years together. Always with that picture hanging above our green Ikea couch. I remember coming home from my bartending job at three in the morning, with him sitting on that Ikea couch playing Playstation, right under the Ikea picture, where he'd been since I'd left him earlier in the day. Where he'd been the day before, and the day before that. He was allergic to employment. But I loved him.
One day, we got in a fight. He kissed another girl. So I left. For Europe. For four months. And told him I wasn't coming back. I left him to pack up our apartment. I told him he can have whatever he wanted. He emailed me that he took some things and put the rest in storage.
About six months after I got back, it was time to get my own place again. I went into the storage bins to see if there was anything worth saving. He took the Ikea couch, he took the dining room set. He took the plant holders. But he left the Ikea picture. I was really hurt. He knew I bought it because HE liked it, and he didn't even have the decency to pretend like it was still hanging somewhere in his new apartment?
I moved into a much larger place, with lots of wall space. It was the first time I'd ever been able to make all the decorating decisions for myself. I had bought the most friggin awesome dining room table that I'd ever seen. Fuck the Actor, and the crappy little Ikea table. I had something new! And Grown up! And pretty! And actually, there was a really great space for the Ikea Picture, in my fabulous and huge dining room, on one of the walls. I hung it up as a symbol of something. But it became a part of me.
And then I met the Agent. I met The Agent, and 90 seconds later we were in love, and planning our lives together. She was everything I'd ever wanted. She was beautiful, and cool, and smart, and fun, and had really nice purses. Soon, she was moving in with me. I sacrificed my beautiful dining room table for a pool table, but the Ikea Picture, she thought, should stay up. She made the decisions. I went along. I even went along with our moving to the Valley, and leaving my beautiful dining room set behind. The Ikea Picture, she promised, would have a place.
Then, after a long and tumultuous ending, I moved back to Chicago, and went to law school. I couldnt bring a lot of things, including the Ikea Picture. The Agent ended up meeting the girl of her dreams, getting married, and moving back to Detroit with her.
Which is where I was this weekend. After I showed up at their beautiful home, and they showed me to the guestroom, I closed the door and sat on the bed. That's when I saw it, just hanging there. Like it was the most natural thing in the world. The corner of the wood, still stained with a bit of red wine after a particularly ugly fight with the Actor. The teensy crack in the glass from when the Agent dropped it while trying to make it hang perfectly. The little scratch that I still have no idea how it got there.
There was a knock on the door. The Agent's lovely wife came in with towels.
"Everything good?" she asked me.
"Yep! I was just looking at this picture." I said.
"Ugh. I don't even know where we got that."
"Um. I think it used to... be mine."
"Oh, Sweetie! You can totally have it back! We were going to just throw it away once we redecorated in here!"
"Oh puhleaze," I said, swallowing the huge knot in my throat. "Just toss it. It, like, came from Ikea or something."