In my bedroom, my father crouches close to the ground. He’s wearing jeans, a long-sleeve collared shirt, and a dark-green fleece vest. In his right hand he holds a hammer. His face is solemn, and his eyes are focused down. He’s staring at a small plastic bag of screws, pegs, and nails.

My dad understands how to use all of these fasteners. He’s worked with wood since high school, when he built a bed from scratch. The man knows his oak from his pine, his awl from his planer. But right now, my dad is confused, hesitant.

He is helping me put together my IKEA “Aneboda” bed.

My father pulls open the plastic bag and dumps its contents on the ground, separating the different fasteners into little piles. While he’s doing this, my boyfriend and I start laying the particleboard pieces of the bed around him like we’re reconstructing a… More…