A few weeks ago I bought this dress for $3.00 at a Goodwill. I didn’t buy it because I thought it was a particularly cute dress, or even because it fit me well. I bought it because the pattern reminded me of the one that covered the couch in the living room when I was growing up.

The very couch which co-stars in this video, as a matter of fact. (And now, whether you like it or not, you’re probably going to spend the next minute listening to some little girl sing “Tomorrow.”)


Some people claim that certain smells or songs take them back to their youth, but for me it’s the patterns of the fabrics and wallpapers from my childhood home. Thanks to a mother who covered almost every surface in our house with bold, colorful prints, I was obsessed with patterns growing up. I studied how they repeated on a quilt, how they climbed up the wall. I could probably draw you, in detail, the three wallpaper patterns I insisted on for my bedroom walls. Yes, three: one below the chair rail, one above the chair rail, and a border that ran the perimeter. It was the ’80s.

But here’s the really crazy thing.

This was totally the couch we had growing up

One time I saw the exact couch we used to have, sitting on one of the streets just off Melrose. To see the couch out of context was like being hit over the head with my childhood memories. Instantly I could see myself lying on the carpet beside it, tracing one finger along the big lily-like flower, which was always my favorite. I remembered burying my face deep into the cushions after some tantrum and gazing up into the forest of blue and orange and brown. I stood there on the street for a very long time, being six.

I almost tore a swatch off that arm. I really should have.

Memory couch

When I saw the dress at Goodwill I knew it was nothing like the couch pattern that I had re-encountered on the streets 2o years later. (The couch pattern, as you can see, is actually way better.) But I still bought the dress, partially as an homage to this graphic awesomeness of my youth, and partially to celebrate the fact that I had been so lucky to encounter it again on the sidewalks of LA.

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  • Paige

    lovely story. I grew up with some crazy patterned couches too…loved how you described tracing the patterns with your fingers. I did the same. Brought me back to some great memories. Thanks.
    BTW, that couch is awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heatherparlato Heather Parlato

    i WISH my parents had a couch with that pattern on it, that's awesome.

  • Carren Jao

    Amazing! I love how memories come back to us so powerfully even years after :)

  • hardstark

    Love it! I had an Important Childhood Couch as well, complete with 70s era pattern. I still remember the night we gave it away. I cried on it for hours, hoping my mom would change her mind. I think my obsession with all things kitschy is just me trying to get my Important Childhood Couch back. Thanks mom!

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  • James

    Love the patterns on the couch! Reminds me of my mom’s couch!!
    Good ol LA. You never know what you’re going to find:)