Growing up as a child of divorce, there were at times pressure of whose house I would visit on which holiday. Custody and headstrong parental personality clashes had a role in my whereabouts most of the time. I don’t remember much, if any of my parent’s relationship, though I do remember the dysfunction in the wake of one. Still, I could never have imagined the pair of them together. Maybe that is as much a blessing as it anything else.
In my teens, as I made some poor decisions of my own along the way and would couch surf with friends through a period of existence, I considered living with my non custodial parent. I figured, at best, even in a rocky and tumultuous relationship, if I could just make it through a few more years that I would be able to soon leave and find my own path. Having a reliable place to sleep instead of searching for a place to crash or for a warm meal was a bargain that I was willing to hedge my bets on.
I have tried more recently to come to peace with the ultimatums which were provided as a part of living under those roofs. And, if I am honest, I still feel hurt and anger in ways for that experience. Nearly two decades later, I have trouble comprehending how we are to just sweep that under the rug as though it never happened. I have not reconciled it all, but, at least in addressing it I will no longer be paralyzed nor captive to something unidentifiable. But, it’s a process that requires patience, vulnerability and intention.
Over one Summer, I was gearing up to move with the non custodial parent, partly gaslit by promises that things would be better. Things could be different. That change on the horizon was in fact closer than I could imagine. In reality, moving to another house felt more like a strategic move to wield power over the other parent. As though I was more akin to chattel than disposition. More prize to be won than valued personality.
I had recently failed the majority of my freshman year of high school. Not because I couldn’t keep up, but because I made decisions to defy authority where I felt otherwise powerless and opposition to be justified. I lacked self accountability and if inventoried, I am sure that probably didn’t help. But, what good would turning in homework or assignments do if I didn’t know if I had a place to stay at any given day? Either way, a change in schools was due as the magnet program I previously was accepted into was no longer extending an invite to return.
So, as I prepared to move into another home, to start another life on a different side of town, the Summer was sort of a trial period to see if this could actually work out.
IKEA was an obvious solution for this experimental arrangement. The furniture was trendy, adequately priced, and would pack well as it all arrives ready for assembly when you buy it from their showcase and warehouse model stores. IKEA furniture signified something new on the horizon.
Some of IKEA’s furniture is produced from particleboard, and upon further inspection; is created from engineered wood developed in part from IKEA’s own supply that is moving toward sustainability practices by the end of this year. Doing so helps defer some of the costs of creating solid wood pieces. Additionally, self reliant sourcing and production means that in regard to design, there can be a freedom in bold, unapologetic choices.
While, in the heat of the Summer, personalities flared and I chose to indeed not move anything other than schools. Much to maybe the heartbreak of intentions of a parent who tried to physically prepare a space, but was not willing to accept the responsibilities of valuing me as more than a pawn in a complex game of custody chess.
Where there is the association of new beginnings for me with IKEA, it doesn’t begin and end at the point of that Summer. I relied heavily on their merchandise in my first apartment. As I continued to move and progress, I have maintained some really great key pieces from IKEA. Their picture frames, bookshelves (record shelves, really) and glass cabinets continue to deliver.
As I chose to expand my record collection, I purchased my second KALLAX shelf. Assembly was quick, even if I preferred to move the box it came in carefully by myself. I had a real end credits of “The Flintstones” cartoon vibe when leaving my IKEA location. Instead of ribs, delivered to a foot powered automobile, I was delivering a 6 foot box using a small metal cart.
The track this week is “Little Boxes” by Pete Seeger. This is a track widely recorded, but most recently popularized as the theme song to the HBO series “Weeds” as performed by Malvina Reynolds. The song addresses suburban communities who value conformity to a social expectation of sending their kids to college so that they uphold the same values in career and lifestyle. The song stands as a counter cultural poke at said plans. The connection of boxes to the IKEA model is a fit, but the underlying tones of the lives that are achieved by following a path also click with me for that period of Summer.
If you are still reading at this point, I greatly appreciate it. This is a longer post which I have debated how to wrap up, especially as I am continuing to put work into reconciliation both internally and externally. Here’s the bow I found in contemplation;
I have come a long way from who I was as a teenager. I have built a life for myself that is filled with adventure. I was the first person in my direct family to graduate with a 4 year degree. I am neither a doctor nor a lawyer, but have a career at a Fortune 500 company as well as owning and operating my own business successfully over the past few years. I may never give up finding pieces of my life that I can learn from and use to challenge myself moving forward. In that way, I have gained more self accountability as I grow through the experiences of examination and improving what I can, where I can.