breaking things down, building things up

It’s been about a month since I’ve moved, and about a month since I hit IKEA to grab shelves and a wardrobe and more shelves so that I’d actually have places to put the stuff I unpacked. My apartment is wonderful in general, but it is not so wonderful in the specific “storage” department–it has got just one closet, and that one closet filled up pretty quickly with a whole lot of clothes and a whole lot of shoes and a shelf stuffed with quilts and blankets. And then a whole lot of boxes, scattered around the wide expanse of floor, which feels slightly less wide an expanse when you’ve got a whole lot of boxes on it. Boxes of unassembled furniture leaned up against the wall and mocked me.

There is something terrifying about unassembled furniture. That giant collection of giant, heavy cardboard boxes represents a whole lot of hours of unpleasant labor, frowning over unclear directions, hitting your thumb with a hammer and hauling things around. That collection of boxes represents potential humiliating failure. Unassembled furniture should not be smarter than you; unassembled furniture too-frequently outsmarts even the smartest person, and it is full of frustration and confusion and back-tracking and screwing up. Unassembled furniture represents everything in the world that I hate. It is very easy to put off assembling furniture, for weeks and months at a time.

E. promised to help me get my shit together, and I was delighted,
because he is very good at assembling furniture. He’s got the upper
body strength, and the logical kind of brain that can figure out weird
diagrams with confusing arrows, and he is good with spatial
relationships. I used to be good at them, and then my brain broke. So I
left the furniture sitting up against the wall and continued to dodge
boxes because he was coming to my rescue, huzzah! And soon my apartment
would be perfect and rainbows would sing! I wasn’t procrastinating, I
was just being so patient.

But E. got a promotion (yay!) and now is busy-insane at work, staying
at the office until ridiculous o’clock (boo!). I have stayed with him,
some nights, while he curses at his computer and growls sexy things
about database relationships, and he is tired and stressed and on
weekends, I would rather have him unstressed and happy, with his head
on my lap while we watch movies rather than irritable and annoyed and
snapping at each other over stupid furniture.

E. wanted me to wait, felt guilty about not having had time, sighed and
told me not to hurt myself when I headed home on Labor Day with
determination and trepidation and hope in my heart. I wandered around
the house lost for a little while, and wiped down the counters and
watched the boxes from the corners of my eyes, and they watched me
back, smugly. Eventually, I built up enough courage, poured myself a
glass of Diet Pepsi, put on an Eddie Izzard standup DVD and applied
myself to 13 pages of directions.

It took two and a half DVDs to get me an enormous bookcase. I hauled it
up against the wall, and filled it with all of my books, broke down the
boxes, cleared out my office space, stacked up papers to go through
(later) and then backed off, sat on the floor, and admired my
handiwork. I made a bookcase! All by myself! I followed directions and
hauled around giant pieces of plywood and smacked the shit out of my
fingers with the hammer, and there it was, a bookcase. My little office
area, cleared out. My garbage can set up, papers ready to shred, a
filing cabinet to reorganize. All me.

The rest of the house is still what you’d call “trashed”; I’ve got two
more pieces of furniture to put together so that I can finally have a
place to stash all my craft crap, my extra pillows, blankets, all the
miscellaneous junk you collect and store in a closet, if only you had a
closet to store it in. But if you squint and look in the right
direction, with the living room arranged, more or less, and the office
area an area in which you can do officey things, it almost looks like a
home. I was thrilled when I snagged this apartment, and the closer it
gets to being arranged, set up, organized, beautiful, the more I
realize what a good idea it was to move, how lovely it is to feel safe,
and self-sufficient, and home. Some of these things for the first time
since I moved to Utah.

One Reply to “breaking things down, building things up”

  1. Two years ago I bought the Malm dresser at IKEA and almost threw it out the window. I started it one night, thinking, oh I can get this knocked out in a couple of hours max. I had built many, many bookshelves and nightstands and even my previous dresser, surely I could handle this one. 4 hours later I was sitting on the floor surrounded by pressed wood wailing to my boyfriend on the phone and dangerously close to tears. He told me to take a break. I did and the next night I finished putting it together (with a little roommate assistance). All told I think that one dresser took about 6 hours. I have decided that I will never build a dresser again. It’s a personal choice.

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