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We'll Always Have Newport: Chapter 11-Shipmates

(June 2010)

The Sailor is big on partnership. This concept is difficult for a a self avowed lone wolf such as myself to put in practice. As the eldest in my family, I am used to calling a majority of the shots and writing lots of checks. Admittedly, this has been a bone of contention in a majority of my previous relationships.
I embrace his partnership philosophy wholeheartedly.  Our first assignment as partners is to pick out furniture for the apartment.  We had to keep a few things in mind. Price, is our first concern since this was a temporary place for us we didn’t want to go too crazy on the furniture. Comfort is another huge concern because the Sailor is 6’2’’ and over 200 pounds. The furniture has accommodate his frame. Space, is  the third concern because the dimensions of the living room will not hold anything bigger than a love seat and a chair.
Armed with our list of top three concerns we headed out on a rainy Saturday afternoon to browse furniture options.  
He’s a huge fan of IKEA. I like IKEA for some things but, not everything. Besides, he’s working full time taking classes and he doesn’t exactly have a lot of time to devote to furniture building. I am not really a whiz when it comes to putting that kind of stuff together . He reluctantly agrees to take the IKEA option off of the table.
The first store that we go to is a tiny somewhat dusty local furniture place. As soon as we walk in, I am hit with a vibe that screams “This place is over-priced”. The Sailor and I exchange glances. He’s thinking the same thing. However, we commit to giving the place a thorough review before we pass judgement. A sales associate approaches us cautiously. He’s not sure if we are a couple or not. I guess it’s not every day that you see a huge tatted up white guy in flip-flops and baseball hat with a petite black woman wearing a shawl, wedge sandals, and rockin' pageant hair.
Anyway, the sales associate glances down to see that we are holding hands and he goes in for the sales pitch.
“You guys here with the Navy?” He asks.
“Yes. I am on shore duty here,” The Sailor replies.
“I just moved here earlier this week. We are looking to buy a dining room set, couch, and bedroom set."

The Sales Associate nods and begins taking around us around to see the various furniture departments. He starts off in the dining room section. (Currently, the dining room is decorated with folding table and chairs combo along with the Sailor's huge duffel bag which I manage to trip over at least twice a day.)
The various dining room sets vary from large and elegant to simple and small. I have fallen in love with a small two seater table and chair set. However, I am not too fond of the price. The Sailor sees me gazing upon it lovingly glances at the price and shepherds me towards another dining room set.

Before my time with the Sailor, I  would have purchased it outright. I have more than enough money to do so but, I know that it would it damage the burgeoning partnership aspect of our relationship.  The Sailor is looking at a more modestly priced dining set and asking my opinion on it. It’s a nice standard wooden table with matching chairs. Whilst much less expensive than the one I had fallen in love with it is still rather over-priced.

“I like it but, it seems over-priced,” I whisper.
He nods in agreement.
“Let’s hold off on the dining set. It’s not like we don’t already have a table to eat off of.”
A  flurry of people enter the store and the Sales Associate gives us a look which contains a silent plea to be set  free from us.
“We’re just going to browse around some more. Thanks again for your help,” I say.
The Sales Associate nods and trots off to greet the throng of newly arrived potential customers.
We stroll around the store for a few more minutes before mutually deciding that we had enough of the dusty musty over-priced furniture store.
“So, where to next?” I ask.
“Massachusetts.” He replies.
Massachusetts? That seems a little extreme to leave to state to browse furniture. Sure, when I lived in Topeka, KS everyone went to Kansas City, MO to shop. But, that was an instance of Topeka being located right near the border of Kansas and Missouri.
Newport, RI  on the map appears to be  pretty far away from Massachusetts.  However, the Sailor assures me that people here are trained from an early age to search the tri-state area of Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts to buy what they need.
Just a few months ago,I had never been to Connecticut or Rhode Island. Now, I am headed to Massachusetts. Or Mass as the locals called it in search of furniture for my life here with the Sailor.
Rain begins pelting against the windows of the car. The mid-afternoon sun has been replaced with fog. Very similar to the weather which marked my arrival to the Enchanted Seaport. However now, with the Sailor driving it doesn’t seem so sinister. Instead, I view it as kind of romantic. A summer rain in the midst of afternoon fog. Somewhere in this reverie  lies a metaphor waiting to burst forth.
The rain has let up a little but, not completely. Surprisingly, the weather hasn’t deterred any other would be furniture shoppers. On the ride up, we decided that we should get a couch since we already have a bed of some sort to sleep on.
I am going to be the negotiater and the Sailor is going to stay silent.   The showroom is packed with couches, beds, and other types of furniture. The sales rep has no idea what to make of us. So, she wisely begins to ask us some introductory questions to get better feel for our needs.
“So, what exactly are you guys looking for?” she asks
She is a stylish middle-aged woman with large frames glasses and a heavy New England accent.
I turn on the Midwestern girl charm and give her a short version of how I came about to move to New England and the fact that we are with the Navy. The undertones were clear, we wanted something simple and affordable yet, stylish.
She looks over to the Sailor in his board shorts, T-shirt, baseball cap and flip-flops. Then her gaze flicks over my wedge sandals, tailored trousers, satin tank top and matching shawl. She was probably thinking, “How in the hell did these two get together?”
“Okay, kids I think we can do that.”
We spend the next hour sitting on couches, discussing fabrics, and prices. My main priority is making sure the Sailor’s 6’2” frame can be properly accommodated by our soon to be new  couch purchase and that it won’t take up our whole living room.
We finally settle on a latte colored micro-suede love seat. It’s comfy and big enough for the Sailor to comfortable nap on. The loveseat is $399. It’s a fair price. I feel as though negotiating down on it will give us bad karma. The Sailor looks at me expectantly.
“We will take it…but, we want free delivery.”
She pauses for a moment and then nods. We shake hands and she takes us to the sales desk.

It turns out that delivery was going to be at least a hundred dollars. The Sailor and I hi-five one another in the parking lot. The weather has cleared up considerably and the sun is shining down on us. Our first purchase as a couple.  For the first time in my life I  truly understand the concept of partnership  and why it’s so important to not be the lone wolf all of the time.


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