This newsletter is the latest in a series of guest posts from Jason Reynolds, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and was originally published on the main Library of Congress blog.
How do you write a newsletter when you don’t have much news? That’s what I’m thinking about right now as I type this to you. I almost started it, “Dear Reader, I don’t have much to say,” but that felt a bit dramatic. Instead, I decided to frame it around the fact that this is a nearly newsless newsletter. And by newsless, I mean, I don’t have anything new to report. At least not much. That’s where the word “news” comes from. It’s a 15th- take on the pluralizing of the word new. As in, current. So, what’s new(s)?
Well, for me, yesterday I had a couch delivered to my house. The movers came around 10 a.m. and took about 30 minutes hoisting this massive thing up the concrete stairs in front of my building, one step after the next, and then another 30 minutes trying to figure out how to maneuver it through the front door without damaging the piece of furniture or scratching my walls with its legs.
I didn’t help. I tried to, but they wouldn’t let me. They moved tables and rugs and attempted to turn the couch one way, then another, then back out the front door, flipped the couch over, then tried again, tilting it down, sliding it, leaning it, pushing it.
“Don’t worry,” one of the guys told me. He was the leader of the movers, and in the midst of what seemed like a brutal experience in suffocating heat, he somehow mustered the nerve to smile.
“I can help.”
“No, we got it.”
“But what about if we take it around back? Might be easier.”
“No.” He turned to me, sweat bibbing the front of his T-shirt. “This is nothing new.”
Ten minutes later, they were fluffing the pillows of my new couch. It was in. And it immediately changed the face of my living room.
I should say, the couch is pink. A bright pink. Almost fuchsia. The kind of pink that lifts a space, washes it in upbeat. In joy. And that’s the reason I got it. The hunter-green slab I’d had before was cool, but kind of a downer. Seemed like it belonged in a darker space, and right now, dark ain’t what I need. But this couch? Well, let’s just say it’s brighter than I remember it being when I ordered it months before the lockdown. That’s for sure.
“It’s beautiful,” the leader of the movers said. I think he could tell I wasn’t quite settled on it, so he repeated, “Beautiful.”
He told me to enjoy my new couch, we pretended to shake hands, and he and the other movers were gone.
I sat on the couch for a while. Then slumped down until I was eventually stretched out on it, and stayed there longer than expected. I got up to do a Zoom thing, then went right back. I slipped in and out of sleep and watched something on TV that I can’t remember now, which is kind of weird. And before going to bed, I looked at it—this giant tongue in the middle of my house—shook my head, turned the light out and could still see it.
This morning, as I climbed the stairs ascending into the living room, guess what? The couch … was still pink. But the room felt more morning than the morning before. Like there was already sun in the house before I opened the shutters. And on top of that, after sitting on it, begrudgingly, and reading the newspaper (even more begrudgingly), I can confirm it’s the most comfortable couch I’ve ever sat on. So even though it’s doing exactly what I wanted, and giving me precisely what I asked for, I still—still—have to get used to it.
New is strange, ain’t it? Almost always.
But old is . . . old. That’s why you’ve never wondered what I’m going to say in my oldsletter, which, by the way, would be a letter about all the things in history which led to . . . why a green couch is a little too dark to keep in my house right now.