by Kristen

I traded out my mass-produced, self-assembled dresser for a family heirloom. Both have four drawers, but—unlike the interchangeable parts of modern convenience—the real deal is far from standard; each drawer is hand-crafted and a different size. Unable to do a direct drawer-to-drawer transfer, I reconfigured the contents . . . and I’m still adjusting to the new system.

Opening an incorrect drawer in the old dresser was no big deal. Wheels glided along tracks, and I could open and shut drawers with one finger. But this dresser is different. It’s real wood. It’s big and heavy. There are no wheels. There are no tracks. It takes two hands pulling with equal force to slide a drawer out and two hands positioned in the right places to shove it closed. Anything else results in a crooked, jammed drawer. But the effort is worth it.

Before arriving in my bedroom, this work of art journeyed from upstate New York to southern California. It stood in my great-grandma’s and my grandparents’ homes. It’s held sets of silver and decks of cards, bracelets and yoga pants, hand-tatted doilies and house keys.

It has a few banged up corners, but it’s as dependable as ever. It was built to be used, and it has been. For over a hundred years. By one family.

I run my hand across its broad, smooth top and feel our history. Deep in the grain of the wood runs the line of love dove-tailing us together as one.


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