My father was in the Persian Gulf war. He lived in the middle east for over a year. The entire time, his home was a green wooden crate. All of his belongings crammed into it, and thrown into the back of a truck or a jeep or carried on his shoulder. Shifting from one unidentifiable place to another in the middle of a desert larger than my imagination.
The crate is about 3 feet long, and 2 feet tall. Heavy as hell and scarred from... well... having been through a war I suppose. The inside of it smells of army. If you have never smelled army, you have no idea. If you have, then you know exactly what I mean. Grease paint, dirt, plastic, canvas, sweat and loneliness. They all combine into one smell that is all its own. Dad carved his last name into the top of it, to distinguish it from all of the others just like it.
This is my crate. There are others like it but this one is mine...
When he returned, the crate went into a shed. Every time I cut the grass I would pass by the crate on my way to the lawn mower. I would always pause and try to imagine living out of a crate for a year. I imagined him using it as a desk when he wrote his letters to me. Sitting on it as he read the books I mailed him. I could see him packing up his cot and tent and shoving them down into his wooden box when new orders came down the pipeline.
I imagined him when word came to move into Iraq. Mechanically disassembling his makeshift bedroom of canvas, stuffing it all into the box and tossing the box onto the back of the truck, wondering if he would ever unpack it again.
One day after school, I came home and saw the crate sitting by the trashcan by the curb.
Oh hell no.
I knew my dad was never one for sentimentality, but dammit, I am. I picked it up and packed it into my bedroom and hid it in my closet. When it came time for me to move out, dad opened my closet door and saw it sitting there.
"I thought I threw that thing away"
"You did, And I saved it. Its mine now and its coming with me"
I harbor a secret fantasy of quitting my job, packing the crate and living out of it for a year. I experienced my first lay off a couple of months ago. During my unemployment, I imagined the worst possible outcome. I lose my apartment and become homeless. I get to live out of dad's crate. My secret fantasy comes true. Not so bad. I didn't get stressed.
Maybe one day when I realize how pointless life really is I will pack it up and set off into the sunset carrying a big-ass unwieldy wooden box. After all, the name carved into the top is my last name too.