Moving into my new apartment at the beginning of October was scary. Theoretically everything was perfect, the apartment was beautiful and so were my flatmates. But I couldn’t shake off the feeling of anxiety that would walk in with me everytime I crossed the threshold of the apartment. The first time I saw the high ceilings and wooden frames my heart sank to the basement. I was so overwhelmed by the emptiness of the rooms that I couldn’t see any space for me to fill with memories and love. The absence of objects in such a big space freaked me out. But we got the house anyway, the anxiety of being homeless at the beginning of the academic year overthrew my urge to be surrounded by memories and things. Thus, I inaugurated my quest for furniture with a story (and no price, in the student fashion of getting third hand furniture for free).
Beginning of October is also when I lost my center of gravity, which meant I had to learn how to orbitate in this system again. I figured that venturing on different trajectories around the city would help me find my own. So, I started scavenging on Facebook marketplace and online thrift stores for chargeless furniture, gifted to whoever went to pick it up. It took me little time to draw a map of Vienna for me to explore, with spots signaled by where I could get a table, a bed, a shelf. Touching upon hidden corners and crossing of the city, my map hugged the geographical distance between points into the intimacy of my room. It made the world look so small, so manageable. It made me feel like maybe I could carry those pieces alongside my burdens. Maybe I could learn how to apply patience and care to their flaws. So I screwed together the components of my bed and lingered in the support it would give to my dreams. I found inspiration in the absence of a lid and rediscovered creativity. I let myself live through the stories and injuries of my new furniture, and I learned to carry with me a tool box to take care of them.
The clothes rack
Teetering, wriggling, faltering. In the night, the clothes rack fights with the forces of gravity, the weights of dresses, the screws persistently twisting out of their places. Standing still is a struggle against higher forces it'll never understand. But still it attempts a balance, teeth tight, muscles tense, it holds up and tidy blouses and skirts, doesn't let me down. Dangles. It's the second clothes rack to inhabit my room since I moved in a month ago. The first one shattered in pieces as I fell apart, and I didn't have the strength and patience to put the screws in again. I therefore chose to get a new one, diving once again into second hand online marketplaces. That's when the white clothes rail rolled into my life, traveling with me on the subway and streets of Vienna. When I showed it its new home, a cozy corner in a room full of light and objects, the corpse of its predecessor was lying in the middle of the space waiting to be forgotten. I wished for a stable future to come. But my third hand furniture comes into my life carrying already stories and defects, and so did the clothes rack. My research for steadiness and balance was held together by tape and prayers. In the attempt to give it more hope, I gave it the most joyful pieces: a pair of lime green trousers, a blue dress with a flower patter, a red velvet robe, a hanging unit with my multicolored collection of socks. The rack trembled under the weight of its new adornments, paled in contrast to their vivid colors. Was it too much? I feared that the clothes rack would be overwhelmed and defeated by my attempts. But to my surprise, it stood still. It embraced the challenge and resisted.
Sometimes, before falling asleep, I can hear the rack grumbling, painting under the weight of expectations and clothing. Sometimes, when I wake up and the screws are still in place, the structure still in balance, I cherish its struggle and start my day alongside it.
I lied earlier. I didn’t screw together the bed, I didn’t have the energy for it.
I was drained by all the space my mental health took in my life, all my strengths dedicated to failed attempts to "suck it up and keep walking straight". But in contrast to my efforts, I stumbled, I fell, I held precariously pieces of myself -two legs,a neck, a head- on top of each other, hoping it would work. And so I tried with my bed as well. It's composed of three plywood units at the base, and two flat pieces that together form 140×200 laying space. It's a diy project of the best friend of the person that gave it to me, so there are no instructions on what's right or wrong to do. I interpreted it as if it was acceptable to use a lot of hope to keep the pieces assembled instead of other tools. At the beginning I actually tried to collect my energies into the hammer-nail-plywood fight, but no bet was on my side and the winners cashed all in. So I consciously forgot about my failure. I selfishly let the bed support me, uphold my dreams through the night, and I ignored its aches. It had nails forgotten into its bowels, chamfers at its angles, half drilled roles breaking the surface. It proudly carried its story and welcomed me within it, supported me with it. I therefore started caring for my bed, in the limit of my energies. I put on it a warm red blanket, to keep away the shivers in lonely nights. I also positioned friends close to it: a squared night table to smoothen its angles, a carpet to soften the floor. I hug it at night as I fall asleep, and sometimes I think it also hugs me back.
Fixing my furniture // Healing myself
I put into this research for furniture all the energy I couldn’t put in myself, as if caring for my new home would for osmosis mean taking care of myself as well. Maybe it did. I learned how to rebuild modified Ikea shelves, tape to balance a clothes rack, darn the fabric of an old stool. I treasured every new piece in my possession and companionship: through each one of their defects I learned how to cherish their fragilities. And sometimes mine. I was comforted by our coexistence, their blemishes alleviating the burden of mine. It’s still a work in progress, healing and decorating takes time, but I’m already sleeping on a bed and tidying my clothes on the shelves instead of my backpack. As the room gets crowded with stories and adjustments, I collect the leftover screws and nails, paint and tape. I might also find a way to also hold myself together.