Making a pot roast is easy, really, especially for two–one to chop the vegetables, one to brown the beef and vegetables and add the flavorful liquid. The sous chef’s duties may also include removing the smoke alarm from the kitchen, but that isn’t the case in every household.
Building furniture is more challenging. Heck, finding the right furniture is more challenging.
Now that the floors and walls in our Writers’ Room are finished and quite lovely, we decided that I should have a proper desk rather than balancing a musical keyboard on two plastic file bins with a jerry-rigged typing keyboard tray beneath it and a metal cart to hold a computer monitor behind.
I found a desk online that seemed perfect in every way except cost–after paying for the floors and walls, a thirteen-hundred-dollar piece of recording furniture that I’d never even touched was risky and extravagant. She ventured to Ikea in hope of finding something we could customize to my needs, and returned with a carful of boxes containing an assortment of possibilities. She also brought a new desk for herself. (She hasn’t felt like her laptop has a real home–that is, when it isn’t on her lap.)
While the pot roast braised, we opened boxes, sorted parts, deciphered pictographic instructions, fitted Tab A into Slot B, and tried to remain patient with ourselves and each other. The challenge was increased by the latening hour, the knowledge that the laundry wasn’t finished, and that a long week stretched ahead of us. It seemed possible that we were about to disprove our belief that only one of us melts down at a time.
When a timer beeped to let us know dinner was ready, a break was declared. The pot roast was hearty and moist, the vegetables tender and sweet. Served with a little cranberry juice and ginger ale, we were fortified. We set another timer as we resumed our work: we were going to finish the project in 30 minutes or leave it for another day.
27 minutes later, not a spare dowel or screw was left over. Her desk was beautiful, functional, and sturdy. The table portion of mine was assembled; the gathering and placing of electronic equipment was Monday’s project, and the return of unused components would happen later in the week. I’m not sure if I’m more impressed that we completed the tasks without undue fussing or that she actually knew the proper name of ubiquitous metal Ikea-furniture-connectors: camlock.)
Ikea once made a video pitting a couple of long-standing and a pair who’d only been dating a short while in a race to see who could assemble a piece of their furniture more quickly and successfully. One of the participants said, at the finish, “IKEA is like love. The instructions aren’t always clear. Sometimes you think you are doing it wrong but at the end of the day, you’ve built a desk together.” We’ve known each other a very long time, but the our current relationship status is relatively new; I don’t know, really, which side of that relationship test we belong on.
We built a desk. (Two of them, in fact.)