By Justine Goode
When I moved into my first apartment after graduating from college, my nightstand was the first piece of “furniture” I placed in the room. I use that word loosely because my nightstand comprised of two milk crates, one vintage and one from Wal-Mart, stacked on top of each other. As a recent graduate, I still had a scrappy, DIY student mentality — it didn’t even cross my mind to buy an actual, adult-looking nightstand that was perhaps a bit classier (and cleaner).
It’s telling to me that this nightstand was the first thing I placed in my bedroom when I moved in, and the last object I removed when I moved out last month. My nightstands have always held a kind of talismanic quality, bedside protectors that hold some of my most valuable possessions—my glasses, my phone, and my books—while I sleep. My childhood nightstand was decorated with curling vines, wispy butterflies, and bright flowers hand-painted by my grandmother, which made its presence in my room even more special and treasured.
The books on/in this nightstand frequently changed during the year, but there was a rough organization. On top sat larger, coffee table-type books, several of which were gifted to me by my boyfriend, like Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and West Side Story as Cinema: The Making and Impact of an American Masterpiece (he played Tony in a high school production and probably knows this still makes me swoon like nothing else). I also have the gorgeous Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart, which I bought at City Lights in San Francisco, one of my favorite bookstores in the world (along with Shakespeare and Co. itself). On the bottom were books in progress or soon-to-be-read. I have been slowly savoring books like The Lonely City by Olivia Laing and The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward for months, never quite ready to read the final chapters and wrest myself away from the words of these brilliant writers. Too Much and Not the Mood was another I lingered on for a unusually long period of time, but after finally finishing the first essay, which unfurls over 93 pages, I zipped through the rest. I did just finish The Argonauts and I Feel Bad About My Neck in the course of a few days, so some progress is being made.
At the time of writing this I have no home and no nightstand. I just moved from Ohio to Brooklyn. All of my worldly possessions are sitting in a CubeSmart in Gowanus, and I’m subletting someone else’s room for the next couple months. But who cares? I have a few books, and a place to sleep and to read. What else do you need, really?