particleboard particles

when i was six or seven years old my parents bought me my first set of bedroom furniture.  i’d never had real furniture before then–just my single bed, a little drawing desk, and a wooden doll cradle my dad made for me.  once i had a friend over who made me laugh so hard i wet my pants, and i couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time so i peed in the doll cradle.  i tried to explain to my angry mother that i’d done it to avoid the carpet, but i don’t think she understood.

but the furniture.  my new bedroom furniture consisted of a dresser with an attached mirror, a chest of drawers, a nightstand, a headboard, and a desk with bookshelves and a chair.  i was really excited to get all this new grown-up furniture, even though it was mostly particleboard with fake wood grain glued to the outside.  but i had a real desk!  with drawers for pencils and paper!  there were places for my books and clothes and necklaces and things, and a nightstand where i’d keep my very own alarm clock.

i had the same furniture three years later when we moved to a new house and i got a new bedroom.  i had the same furniture through junior high, through high school.  i had the same furniture when i was eighteen and hated college so much that i came home every weekend i could, and it was still there when i was twenty and came back home.  i moved it with me to my first apartment, and i moved it to this apartment, too.  well, the headboard was thrown out with the single bed, and the desk, useless to me now since it won’t fit my computer, serves as part of my mother’s doll shrine in my old room at my parents’ house.  but the rest of the furniture is still mine.  i’m a twenty-five-year-old waitress with a criminal record and i’ve had the same bedroom furniture since i was six.

looking at my furniture now, i can see the evidence of nineteen years of use.  i can see the nooks and crannies my mom would make me dust on saturdays and the greenish spot on the dresser where i spilled nail polish.  i know which drawer is a little rickety from the time i slammed it in frustration.  the most obvious evidence, though, is that every drawer is still lined with the care bears-themed wrapping paper my mom pasted in when i was six.  i haven’t ever taken it out for several reasons.  first of all, it seems like more trouble than it’s worth.  why would i bother to rip out all that perfectly good paper, rip out half the fake wood grain along with it, and then have to line the drawers with something else?  nobody ever sees it anyway.  second of all, i think it’s kind of cute.  mostly, though, the care bear paper has been there for so long i never even notice it anymore.

i noticed it, today, though.  today i took all your stuff out of what used to be your drawer in my bedroom dresser.  i took all your stuff out, all your underwear and socks and t-shirts and undershirts, and i put it all into a paper bag by the front door, and then your drawer was completely empty.  that’s when i saw the bottom.

nobody else ever had a drawer before you did.  when i cleared it out last year to make room for your stuff i didn’t know what i would do with my stuff.  now i don’t know what to do with the drawer.

that, then, is why i can’t seem to finish the jail story.  when i think about that night i picture your sleeping face, your bruised knees, you in the other squad car.  i think about how i cried in the jail cell wondering if you were okay, thinking you hated me, knowing you’d never talk to me again.  hearing your voice on the phone after i was released, i cried again with relief, and when i finally got to see you two days later you grabbed me and hugged me and wouldn’t let go.  but now your drawer is empty and your stuff’s in a bag and i don’t want to think about it anymore.