Growing up (assembly required)

Was browsing at Meijer for some new furniture when I encountered my perfectly ideal writing desk.

Clean, simple, and orange. Just how I like ’em.


I  knew some assembly would be required; surely no biggie though. After all, I have assembled things before. A TV stand, once. A power tower.

(Here’s a “Power Tower” if that term does not compute)

So, right, I figured throwing the desk together would be cake, or at least as easy and simple as other tasks I have taken on.

I hauled it home in its neat box, a myriad of components all held tightly together in a cardboard womb.

An  intricate cardboard womb. And when I say tightly, I mean it baffles my mind how they got all of it in there the way they did. Just opening the  box was arduous, thanks to the Herculean strength of the glue and tape.  Once I’d infiltrated the box I was faced with seemingly endless sentries  of Styrofoam in a plethora of shapes and sizes, each piece separating  the parts of the desk.

By the time the parts were unloaded the  living room was an absolute mess. Remnants of Styrofoam fluff all over me, scattered about the floor and furniture. I was exhausted and had not even gotten to the instructions yet.

What had I done to deserve this?

And haha, I remember thinking:

“What is the name of the company who packaged this product? I must remember it. I will never buy from them again.”

(Their name is Sauder and the truth is, they rock)

Fastforward to right now. Assembly complete!

I could not put my finger on it but SOMETHING was afoot

Upon completion I shouted “yeaahhhhh!” and hummed the Final Fantasy fanfare.

(if you don’t know what that is, click here)

Now, I retract my complaints. Putting this thing together was like the best thing ever.

It took plenty of effort with little attacks of frustration.

“Is that screw going in straight?”

“Oh, man, I am going to screw this up.”

“…Don’t quit your day job.”

There was some physical pain in my fingers and knuckles and once in a while a piece just wouldn’t go how I wanted it to.

“What the? How am I supposed to hold all this together and screw that in there without that other part going– wa!”

But  it was not really so bad. Once I got into a groove I transitioned to  slower than molasses to slow-but-steady and then from there I made it  all the way up to, “Might beat a turtle in a footrace if he’s got a limp.”

“Sorry, little guy.”

On  the final stretch it occurred to me: people have been doing this stuff  for a long time. Building desks, and then of course buildings and planes  and spaceships, but desks are a good place to start. People have been  doing it, and some of them may have even been enjoying it.

Somewhere in my conditioning, I found myself averse to anything that seemed like work. I must have equated effort with misery.

Things used to just appear right in front of me. Why shouldn’t they now? Why should I have to get my hands dirty?

But yeah, I assembled that desk and I was proud of it. So proud that I immediately took a picture of it and sent it to my mom.

(Good o’le Mom. I sure am lucky to have a ma, and I wish someone would step up for all they who don’t)

And somewhere along the way I made a connection between the satisfying process of completing the desk’s assembly and the sense of satisfaction that for years I have gotten from coming back into myself after drug binges.

In both cases, it can be like climbing a mountain. Winning a race. Slaying the dragon. Breeding gold chocobos…

And if I can extract that great glee and sense of accomplishment from putting together a desk, then whoa.

Look out, world. My assembling has just begun.

Also published on Medium.