3rd floor, 14 square meters, dark floorboards, empty walls. An air matress is lying crumpled in the corner when IKEA arrives at 7am with my new furniture; the promise of a new home. And for the first time, I’m building my own nest. 700 kilometers from home, there are no parents to help. One day into my Hamburg life, there are no friends here yet. On a weekday, my new flatmate is at work. And – gasp – no male counterpart to handle my shit, either. I am completely on my own and that sounds a lot more depressing than it is. I am actually excited. But it does feel a bit strange. A single woman assembling all her furniture without any help? Nay, doesn’t it sound wrong?
A dresser, a desk, a clothes rack and a bed are waiting to be put together. As I pull the few tools out of my suitcase and start tearing the cardboard boxes open, I am motivated as hell. How long have I waited for this day! Starting fresh in Hamburg with my own stuff, finally having escaped the furnished room in Berlin (which looked nearly as Eastern-German as in the old days, I promise).
Most of the stuff with the funny Swedish names actually turns out to be easy to handle. While I assemble MALM dresser and RIGGA rack, I binge-watch Netflix. Jolly good. MICKE desk is, um, a bit harder. I heave the tabletop onto the body upside down. Uhum. Eventually, I manage. But then there’s the MALM bed. 2 meters x 1.4 meters. “You’ll have to wait with the bed until we’re coming to bring your other stuff,” my mother’s voice repeats in my ear. Two more weeks on a matress on the floor? Like hell I would!
“You’re going to break the ends because you can’t hold them up at both sides,” the voice nags on. Huh, let’s see. I was raised by a man who owns a basement room he calls die Werkstatt, and a woman who bakes the most accurate, carefully handled Christmas cookies in the world. Does that sound like I am not talented and inventive?
After two straining hours the bed is done. My flatmate returns from work and helps me with positioning the LURÖY slatted bed base – that is actually the hardest part because it means a lot of fidgeting. I am so glad she’s there. Being independent does not mean denying help for the sake of feeling stronger. It means taking matters into your own hands whenever you want to, as far as you can. Independence is not a gift from heaven. Most of the time, it is not even a choice. For me, independence is born from necessity – being able to do most things on my own has become natural to me. Not because I’m a superhuman superfeminist, but because I often need to. Independence is proving the nay-sayers wrong. And let me tell you something: I’ve never slept so well!