Me and Keaton went with Travis on Tuesday to IKEA to get him some furniture for the apartment next door to Keaton’s, which is where he’s gonna be moving next week when he finishes up the program in the place in El Monte where he’s been living and doing a great job of getting over everything he went through a couple years ago.
Like Keaton predicted, the toughest part of the day was carrying all the shit up to the second floor, which is where Travis’ new apartment is. It was over 90 degrees out, and we had three very sweaty Parrots by the time we were done.
“Bubba’s taken care of his six-pack workout for the day,” Keaton said. “Anyone else wanna have a middle of the day beer after that?”
I said okay…it would be hours before I had to drive again…although Travis passed. (Travis: “I’m not sure I’m supposed to drink on my current meds. There’s no alcohol on the funny farm so I never really looked into it.”) I offered to go get him a coke from my apartment…then I remembered that I didn’t live there anymore. It’s been nearly a year that I’ve been living with the Sharpmans, but, for some reason, being back there, I got back to thinking I still lived there.
“Get your tools, bubba,” Keaton then said. “We got work to do.”
And, believe me, we did. We had to put together a bed, a dresser, a tall bookcase, a nightstand, a desk, a small dining table and four chairs and a couple lamps. It was super crowded inside with all the flat packs on the floor, and I wondered if it was all gonna fit, but then I remembered something Mom told me about my room in Apartment 643 when I first saw it and thought it looked way small: rooms look bigger when they have furniture in them.
Keaton was right when he suggested we start small, and by small he meant the bed, because it had the least pieces. We needed to get the feel for IKEA instructions before tackling something complicated with drawers. (Both me and Keaton have sense enough to follow instructions when putting something like furniture together. Both our dads – who taught us to build just about anything – made it real clear to us early on that it’s not gay to follow the instructions. It’s just fuckin stupid not to.)
And we did need some time to get used to the IKEA instructions, since they’re all pictures. Like everything’s a picture. No words at all. Once you get the hang of how they work, they’re okay to follow…but at first we were looking at the pictures and were both ‘what the fuck?’ lol. We got it eventually, and it got easier as we went along. Your brain kinda learns to ‘speak IKEA’.
Keaton said he’d take the dresser, which meant I got the desk, nightstand and bookcase. (One warning about IKEA: they don’t send you all the screws and shit, so you’d better have some screws in your tool box before you start. We didn’t know that beforehand, but, well, I reckon y’all can guess that both me and Keaton have pretty full tool boxes. Keaton’s even got a few cool European-gauge things in his from when he was living over there.)
“What the fuck?,” Keaton said, looking at all the pieces of the dresser after he’d laid them on the floor in front of him to make sure they were all there. It did look a little like an all-white jigsaw puzzle.
“You wanna trade?,” I asked.
“Fuck no,” Keaton said. (Did y’all see that coming?) “You gotta go get the boys in a while, and I can finish this when you’re away.”
That made sense. So I tackled the nightstand, which was kinda like a mini version of the dresser, only with two drawers. That took a while, but I was still done in plenty of time to get the boys from school.
“How’s the building going?,” Jacob asked when he was in the car.
“Okay. The directions are all pictures.”
“Just like Lego,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said, “you’re right. We should have had you along to show us how its done. It took us a few minutes to get used to the directions. I left Keaton building the dresser.”
“Does the stuff look nice? Is your friend liking it?,” Matteo asked.
“I think so…although all that’s fully assembled so far is the nightstand. I was only halfway through the desk when I had to go get you guys.”
I got them home, Belen gave them their snack, and I headed back over to Travis’.
Keaton was still working on the dresser.
“It’s not that I don’t understand it,” he said, “but it’s so fuckin complicated. There are at least five things that I could have designed more simply. Maybe it makes sense if you’re Swedish.”
He was actually almost done, and I gotta admit the dresser looked real good when he was. All the bedroom furniture looked good. Then we attacked the dining room.
“Watch carefully,” Keaton said, taking the pieces for one of the chairs out of the box, “you’re doing one of these yourself, hoss. High time you learned a thing or two about tools and building shit. No buddy of mine is gonna have to waste good money hiring a sketchyass handyman off Craigslist when he can do it himself.”
We finally had everything done (and, yes, Travis got the last chair together all by himself after we coached him through the third one) by 6. That included cramming all the boxes into the garbage. Juan Diego told us not to take up the whole dumpster, and I gotta admit Keaton has a secret talent for collapsing cardboard boxes lol. It looked like we had a mountain them when we finished building the furniture, but it wasn’t so bad when we carried it downstairs to get rid of it.
“You want me to take Travis back to El Monte?,” I asked Keaton. “You’re home already and look like you could use a beer.”
“I fuckin could, bubba,” said Keaton. “You don’t mind?”
So Travis got into the luxury of the Maybach passenger seat again.
“Dude…this thing feels like a coffin. That’s what I’ve been trying to come up with since this morning!”
“It is pretty deep and padded,” I said. “Be cool if they made chairs like this for living rooms, though. You know, man, you’re gonna need chairs or something to go with your couch. Hold on…how are you planning to get that to the apartment?”
“Mom uses some app called Lug or something. Don’t tell Keaton or he’ll be renting a truck and wanting to do it himself.”
“Yeah,” I said, “he probably would.”
“I want to save him in case I need to make another IKEA run.”
“Count me in on that too.”
“Oh,” he said, with a smile, “I was planning to. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to both of you….”
“No worries, man,” I said, taking a hand off the steering wheel. “Part of what friends are for.”
“Yeah, but you two have been so awesome all the way through…and you know how my best friend dumped me…and…”
“Relax, man,” I said. “Like I said, it’s what friends are for.”
We were quiet as we headed down Rosemead Boulevard a spell. Then I said:
“So how’s it feel to be getting out of that place?”
“Really? Why? I’d of thought you’ve outgrown the funny farm, like you call it.”
“I guess I have, in a way…but it’s gonna be weird, this living on my own. I’ve never done it before. It’s a huge step.”
“Yeah, but remember you’ve got like the coolest neighbor in the world. And I’m… what?…10 minutes away. You’re not totally on your own in a strange place. And, man, you’ve come so fuckin far. When I think back to how you were the day we had to rescue you from Dylan’s wedding and about how you are now, picking out furniture and planning for the future, it’s pretty fuckin amazing. You should be super proud of yourself.”
“I…I guess,” he said. “Hey, can we stop and get something to eat? I just realized that I missed dinner. You down for In n Out? My treat. Or do you mind waiting in line?”
“No, that’s cool. I haven’t had In n Out for a while. I could go for some animal fries actually.”
“Yeah, but what about your six-pack?”
“Fuck you, man. If you only knew how tired I am about hearing about my abs.” I laughed. Sometimes I wish Lucas hadn’t gotten me on the workout kick that got me into shape for summer…and all those Instagram followers.
So we got the food, and ate it carefully. Last thing I wanted to do was drop a double-double all over the carpet of the Maybach. Then I drove Travis back to where he’s gonna be living for about another week. Since the middle of my days are free, I’m gonna drive over and help on moving day. Keaton’s working that day, so we’re gonna have to make do with whatever kind of vehicle the ‘funny farm’ has (Travis said they had a van or something and someone to help drive it), plus the Maybach and Travis’ car, but that’s even smaller than the shitbox, and hardly the kind of thing you need to haul all the shit a person’s accumulated in 18 months
The great part of all of this is that Travis is getting out of the funny farm and is starting out on his own again. And that he’s found a great place to live. I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve got a good feeling about him.