I am so tired but feel I must journal my trip to IKEA for my descendants. Laura Ingalls Wilder may have crossed the frozen Missouri river in a covered wagon, while the ice groaned and cracked in protest, only a wagon wheel away from a frozen watery grave, but I shopped at IKEA.
I know there are those out there that love to feel the fluorescent lighting on their cheeks and frolic through two football fields of, I don't know, stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Plastic stuff, wooden stuff, metal stuff, woven stuff, fluffy stuff, flat stuff but I sadly, am not one of the frolickers. I know this with the same certainty that I knew after watching a Patriots football game, that I would never cross the divide that separates football fans from those that well, aren't.
The trip should take 30-40 minutes. It took over an hour. Google maps. A 12 year old navigator. Take your pick. The twelve year old tried. The car's GPS died. It's been begging for a battery replacement but I've chosen to ignore it.
We arrive. I've only freaked out about four times and threatened to turn around twice. The only reason I didn't turn around was because I had no idea which direction that might be. And I needed towels and pillows for guests arriving in seven days. Towels here are very expensive. I just can't figure out why. I mean I haven't passed any cotton fields, so guessing it's all imported, but the milk is all local and that is expensive as well.
We enter. We get a 55 gallon plastic IKEA bag and a metal stand with wheels. I let Lauren wheel that around. My satchel is digging a trench in my shoulder that I may never recover from. I am already withered. I have grossly underestimated my energy level. I haven't had enough protein in the last three days combined to survive this trip. My pupils contract. Being in IKEA reminds me of being in a casino. You lose sense of night and day. Frequent guests get free beverages. There are buffets and small children crying.
We pass rooms that you could move right into reminding me of that novel about the pregnant girl who lived in Walmart unnoticed. I could live in IKEA. I might never have to leave. Meatballs, bandaids, beverages, soft pillows, duvets. During the day, I will pretend I work there. I will work there- I won't just pretend. My book club could meet me in any one of the lovely kitchens but I like the white and green glass one the best. The kids might as well move in too. Cheerful bedrooms. And so many bathrooms. They could each have five, maybe ten, of their own. We could get a cat. Who would ever notice a cat? And personally, I think for those of us that find IKEA overwhelming, a room with therapy dogs and lazy cats you can pet, might calm you enough to actually complete your purchase and not abandon your cart (as I've done in Trader Joe's and that crazy singing cow store in Connecticut, Stew Leonard's).
But after 20 minutes, the intercom starts speaking German. I feel like Charlie Brown while he listens to the teachers talk..."whaaa, whaaa, whaaa, sieben...whaaa, whaaa, auf Wiedersehen". It's Lauren who translates, "MOM, THEY ARE CLOSING IN SEVEN MINUTES."
I forget all about the coffee table and the sea glass colored lanterns. I don't even know where the exit is but I am absolutely certain I will need a shuttle to get there. We move with a single minded clarity. Through dishes (oh, how I want new dishes), though the textiles, past the cute baskets. It's towels we need. We find them. We throw them in (green ones- that is all I ever buy-why is that?) Pillows. We find them and throw them in.
We are the only ones looking panicked. So we slow...to a light jog through the posters. We are making decisions in seconds that would normally take hours. I forget the hand towels. Send Lauren back. Then afraid we may never reunite, I tail her. All four wheels of the cart move independently. It's difficult to steer. Like driving a tractor trailer on that show 'Ice Truckers'. I regret quitting Pilates. I'm dehydrating. I'm losing my power to say no...
"Can I have a laptop cover?" Yes.
"Can we get six bags of cinnamon rolls?" Yes.
"Can I have this poster of a bird?" Yes.
And on and on. IKEA is tween crack.
The check out lady deserves employee of the month. She is the fastest thing I have ever seen. Walmart should train their employees here. I doubt there is an employee on earth that wants to go home worse than an IKEA cashier on a Saturday afternoon. But I, I want to go home worse than the cashier even. I offer my credit card before she asks. I don't bother bagging and instead use my arm to sweep it all off the conveyer belt and into the cart. We board the freight elevator to the car park.
We unload. I look for the car park ticket. I might really have to live there. Lauren is searching my bag. She finds three giants bars of chocolate, two water bottles, a camera, seventeen expired train tickets, and an EpiPen.
I consider using it. I love would a giant tranquilizer right now. But I settle for a square of chocolate and the water. I promise myself that I will never, ever go there again unless I have hired a guide.
Or...the book club wants to meet there.