Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One Small Car, One Big Dresser

I was on my way home yesterday when I spotted this lovely thing sitting on the street.

Take me home! 
For the past month, I've been trying to figure out how to afford a dresser. Now that I have a semi-permanent spot in Chinatown, I've been dying for a place to put my socks. I sold all my furniture from my apartment on 11th Street (except for the porcelain top table, which is still buried in storage).

Specifically, I want a 19th-century dresser, since I don't really decorate a place, I basically make a set piece out of my apartment. And there's something about the place that feels like a 19th century farmhouse or maybe a rustic cabin to me. Don't ask me why - maybe the wood panelling? So I'm looking for Victorian shabby, kind of like Christopher Walken's little cottage in Heaven's Gate. Or like this picture from the 1880 Koepsell Farmhouse in Wisconsin.

But I've been too broke to do anything but drool over furniture on Craig's List.  So I stopped dead on my tracks seeing the dresser on the street. There were lots of scuffs and dings, but the drawers all worked well. Nothing weird in them. But how to get it home? I looked in my purse and counted the money I already knew was in there - $4.00. And my bank account had 28 cents. I was expecting money the next day but the dresser would definitely be gone by then. 

I began calling friends who had cars. My friend in Ditmas Park couldn't come, but he suggested two other friends who might be closer. I called one of them. Out of town. The second suggestion was Chip, who said he had to call me back in ten minutes. I put up a note on facebook, "Anyone downtown or on the west side who has a vehicle and will help me get a dresser to my apartment?" Across the street, a Latino guy was getting into his giant SUV and I considered asking him for help but chickened out. A friend out in Sunset Park responded to my facebook post. He considered coming back into the city, but in the meantime, Chip called back and said he could come get me in half an hour. 

It was getting cold. Two other people stopped and checked out the dresser, so I draped myself over it and tried to read my book. I'm on the chapter in Jane Jacob's amazing book The Life and Death of Great American Cities that's about gentrification. Chip finally arrived and it turned out his car was small. Very small. For some reason, neither of us had thought to check whether the dresser would fit into his vehicle. After trying to stick it in the trunk (no...), we put it on the roof. 

Um, yeah, but how will it stay up there?
Then we looked around in the car but there was nothing to secure that dresser with except a ball of twine that happened to be floating around. So we wrapped twine all over it, trying to ignore that it was kind of fraying as we did so.

Good way to Tie Die. 
Yep. REAL secure. It looked like a spider-web inside the car. Well, we only had to get it across town, but man, it was a harrowing and slooooow 20 minute drive. Chip had his hand out the window to make sure the dresser wasn't shifting too much. We gingerly skirted around every pothole. People were laughing at us. One lady said as we drove by, "He's HOLDING it up there!!!" 

But here it is in my bedroom this morning with the old mirror that I bought a thousand years ago at Obscura when it was on 10th Street.  Now I need a hurricane lamp, and a Jenny Lind bed, and a nice paint job in the room... 


  1. Lovely... an dit still has its feet! I love old furniture, too - but I usually sand, stain, embellish, etc... Still, nothing beats an old beautiful piece!