By RoiAnn Phillips
I bought a dresser at Ikea last weekend. It came in three large boxes.
I knew exactly what dresser I wanted, but I decided to walk through the showrooms, too, because seeing furniture in-person is different from seeing it online. I wanted to be sure. I wanted this dresser to last me a good long time.
My plan was to get the tiny bookcase out of my closet so I could access my hanging clothes each morning without a struggle, and put my shoes in the closet where the bookcase was, so they could stop cluttering my bedroom floor. The dresser was the beginning of a domino effect and I wanted it NOW.
I threw a couple funnels into my cart, a picture frame I couldn’t live without, a bedroom mirror, some towels . . . and finally the dresser, my beautiful dresser.
After paying and maneuvering my two carts out the door, I realized I had never been to Ikea by myself. Never. Ever. In my whole life. I’ve never picked out a dresser by myself either.
I find myself facing a lot of firsts these days.
I left my things under the watchful eye of a young woman with blue hair while I ran through the parking lot to get my car. I sprinted. I drove quickly back to the loading area. I didn’t see my carts. I didn’t see the door I’d come out. Where was I? There were two loading areas. Where did I leave my cart?
The young woman was gone when I pulled my car into the correct loading lane, but thankfully my carts and all their contents were still there, still intact, and my new dresser beckoned.
That night after dinner, I opened the first box. I understood that it was disassembled. I knew I was meant to assemble it. I’ve been to Ikea before. I’ve assembled their furniture before. Still, nothing had prepared me for this.
There were a lot of boards – some painted, some not – of every imaginable size. And there were bags of hardware. Big bags of hardware. Bags upon bags of hardware. It took a full hour to unbox my new dresser, which made me think of those unboxing videos young kids were obsessed with last Christmas. Are they still popular? I understand!
There’s something about opening a gift, the big reveal … I was giddy with excitement! I hardly knew time was passing. I laid the boards out on a blanket, leaning the biggest boards against the wall. I put the hardware on my desk. I told my daughter I thought it would take me three days to put it together. She suggested four. We nodded. We waited to see.
My dog and cat both wanted in on the action. New stuff! Look! Boxes. Boards. Blanket. How does it smell? Is it hard? Is it soft? I want to sit right there. Right there in the middle. Ahhh.
I made it to Step Four the first night. Step Four of 43. It was daunting, but I was proud.
After six weeks in my new house, I had begun.
By the end of four days, I had it framed! It was real furniture now. I could see space for all the drawers, and it had a top, which my cat slept on for awhile. (That may have been what made it real.)
I could see what it was going to become.
And in that moment, it became clear that I have what I need – the tools, the boards, the hardware – I even have time. Yes, it took me longer than three days. Yes, it’s taking longer than four. Yes, building the dresser, like rebuilding my life, must fit into the spaces between other everyday mundane things, but bit by bit, hour by hour, progress will be made.
Progress is being made.
No, I have not put up the Christmas tree. And no, I don’t want to learn about those new dating apps anytime soon.
But the dresser? That, I can build. That, I am building. And when I’m done, when I roll the last drawer into place, I will finally put my clothes where they belong.