I sat on the floor of my room, curled like an apostrophe around a bookcase lying prone on the infuriatingly un-level carpet. Holding the side of the bookcase against my knees, I clamped the shelf under my arm and twisted the screwdriver painfully with my right hand (I’m left-handed, so this took a fair bit of coordination). It was nearing dinnertime, and I had a meeting to go to, but I was absolutely determined to get this thing put together. Before I had to go anywhere, before I ate, before the Engineer came back from whatever he’d been doing all day, this bookcase would be upright and my books would be rescued from their homelessness.
This corner of my room had been driving me crazy for weeks. My printer was perched precariously on a wobbly table with spindly legs. My books were stacked as neatly as possibly in various corners of my room. My papers were strewn in heaps under the printer and on the ledge running under my window. Clearly, I needed a bookshelf.
What I had envisioned was a bookcase already assembled, perhaps one from a garage sale or a family member’s guest room, or even Goodwill. Nothing fancy, of course, but already possessing nails and screws in all the vital places.
I found myself instead with this pressboard, “coffee cherry” finish kit from Shopko and a familiar stubborn voice in my head telling me I didn’t need anyone else to help me put it together.
And I was right. I may have attached the bottom slightly crooked and had to redo it. I may have had red lines that purpled into bruises on my legs from holding the pieces tightly together while I twisted the screws through. I may have nailed the cardboard backing on so that it bubbles out a little bit at the bottom. But it stands, and it holds my books, and I am happy.
My mother (who, as you may recall, also likes to rearrange furniture at times) put together the table and chairs in our breakfast nook at home all by herself. She wrestled with the legs and heavy top, chased screws across the floor out of the cat’s reach, and threw a tablecloth over the finished product with a proud flourish.
I suspect I get some of my independence from her.
I’ve been fortunate enough to always have people to call if I need something moved, or built, or fixed. But it’s nice to know that, should the need arise, my bright pink toolbox and I can probably figure things out.