Monday, April 13, 2009

The Happiest Place On Earth

Last week, when I was feeling extreme home building stress, I decided to run and hide at my happy place, IKEA. IKEA became my favorite getaway when we were living in London. A few months before we moved there (this was 1999, so I discovered IKEA much later than many) our friend Rich gave us an IKEA catalog he had picked up in the Seattle store and I seriously spent hours looking through it and saying out loud, to no one into particular "That is so cool, and IT'S SO CHEAP." An IKEA addict was born. In the weeks we were getting ready to move to London I looked up the local IKEA and figured out how to get there via tube before we ever left the States. I couldn't wait.

And it's a good thing that I did all that research. When we arrived and I saw our apartment for the first time I cried. Not just a little bit either. It was less than 300 square feet (the whole thing) and had only one window that was about 2'x4', and was painted a dirty pale yellow/cream with blue commercial grade carpet. Really, you'd cry too. So the next day I made Steve take the tube for the first time all the way up to Neasden to the local IKEA. We bought all kinds of stuff, and had to carry it all home on our backs. As we returned we were a couple of stops away from our local tube stop, the train broke down and we had to hit the streets. And, surprise, surprise, it was pouring rain. So we spent our first full day in London at IKEA, and our first full evening walking home with our huge blue bags and getting totally soaked. But at least our apartment looked much better.

The first few months in London were a bit tough for me; Steve was studying and composing, and I was, well, doing nothing. So one day, I just took the tube up to IKEA and walked around for hours. I couldn't buy anything really because of the size of our place and our lack of a vehicle, but I always felt happy there, and I spent many a day there dreaming of what I would buy if I could. One of my favorites was the ULDUM rug, and I told myself that I'd love to get it for a kid's room someday. Same with the IKEA PS red rug.

You can imagine how thrilled I was when we got our local IKEA. I wasn't quite crazy enough to line up with all the other IKEAholics days before it opened, but I was there the first week, believe you me. And now that both the kids are old enough to go to SMALAND, it's even a happier place than it used to be. And then there's the ice cream cones and the touch screens when we're finished.

In fact, the first word Jack ever read was IKEA on the bottom of one of their multi-colored plastic plates which have overtaken our cupboards. I think I may be breeding a whole new generation of IKEA addicts.

I still can't believe I can go there anytime I want. And I can drive my car. And I have a house that needs stuff. And, I'm happy to report that, almost 10 years later, I bought the ULDUM and IKEA PS rugs for the new house. See, at IKEA, dreams really do come true.