PERSONAL: Building the Desk

Back in October I bought a desk. I just put it together tonight. It’s gotten me thinking about a lot of things.

It took nearly a week for me to get it shipped to my place, thanks to missed calls and weekends and such. The accompanying shelf, I put together within a week. It helped sort some of the mess that’s lingered since I moved into my new apartment in September. But the desk sat in pieces, leaning up against one wall in my bedroom, for nearly three months as I avoided putting it together.

At Thanksgiving, I went through hell to transport my desktop computer 540km in a massive suitcase, from my parents’ place down to my new home. I spent an hour in Toronto’s subway system, lugging a suitcase too heavy for me to carry alongside my other bags. Dragging it on tiny wheels, one of which broke en route. Exhausted, I brought the suitcase upstairs to my apartment, excited for the opportunity to set everything up.

Still, the desk remained in pieces. The computer, still in its suitcase, relegated to a closet.

I don’t know why it took me so long. It ended up taking somewhere in the vicinity of fifteen minutes or less to put it together. I spent a few weeks away in December, and I’ve been pretty busy in general, but I could have found the time. It’s just one of a thousand “should-do’s”, the small tasks I know I need to get done and yet simply… don’t. For no other reason than I didn’t want to.

I still don’t feel at home, in my new room. Since I moved in, I’ve been doing all my work on a laptop at the kitchen table. I’m pretty much only in my bedroom to fall asleep and wake up, and sleep-adjacent time-wasting. And tidying it, too, because at my lowest energy I’ll toss my bag, my clothes, everything aside and fall into bed with the grace of a drunken hobo.

It’s a far cry from my youth, where my bedroom was my sanctuary. My kingdom. I’d spend hours reading there, or on the computer typing a storm, or whatever I liked. Back then, I shrugged off cleaning my room because it was a way of showing that I, not my parents, owned this small slice of home. I controlled it. It was my place.

Now, I tidy it pretty much every week. I guess it’s just not the same as it once was. No sanctuary, just a place to sleep.

That’s the effect it can have, moving around a lot. Since moving away from home I’ve lived in five bedrooms in three different apartments. Plus the guest room in my parents’ new house, since they left my childhood home behind a few years back for a new place up north that’s more their style. Whether living with my sisters or roommates, whether furnished or empty or full of someone else’s furniture (which has been the case twice), I don’t think I’ve felt at home anywhere. This is really the first time I’ve realised that, sitting at this desk in the room where I now sleep.

This desk, I guess, was a way of forcing me to acknowledge this feeling. Of transience. Restlessness. Emotional homelessness. I could ignore the creeping feeling if I had no reason to ever be in here, if I had no place to work. I could avoid spending long periods of time here. But now I have a place to work, in here. A reason to stay in this room beyond wake-up and bedtime. A chance for it to feel like more than a rest stop.

And it still feels just as hollow as everywhere I’ve slept since 2008.

I don’t decorate the walls. My things are largely heaps of bagged miscellany or hastily-crammed drawers of books I haven’t read yet. CDs I ripped to my computer a long time ago that I don’t have the heart to throw out.  Empty drawing-books, saved for the someday when I take my whims towards art seriously. And I doubt I’ll ever have time to feel comfortable here; I know for a fact that, come fall, I’ll be looking for another new place.

My bedroom still feels like a place where the pieces of a desk are more welcome than the real thing. Where posters belong in bags hanging at the back of the closet. Like I moved in yesterday, or I’ve already started packing to move out tomorrow.

I’ll be officially graduating from Ryerson in June. I delayed, first to take advantage of an opportunity through school and then to clean up some unexpected fees, so I’ll be graduating exactly a year after the rest of my class. Today, I applied to graduate from Ryerson and handed in my application for grad school somewhere else. And I built the desk. All three in one day stirred something up in me that I can’t shake. An existential tiredness.

Maybe the next place will be home. Maybe.

Who knows.

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