Major Milestones

I read in an article recently that humans are much more likely to undergo big, life-altering feats in the year before they reach certain age milestones. 29, 39, 49, 59. They’ll run marathons, change jobs, move across the country, start businesses, and take on other bucket list type adventures. For me, this year was true to the theory. I left a job, accepted a new one, traveled to Asia, self-published a book, made a big move, and, as of yesterday, visited IKEA for the first time.

I didn’t need much, just a set of drawers for my closet and a small trash can for under my desk. My sister asked why I didn’t just go to Bed Bath & Beyond or Homegoods--some of our usual home furnishing haunts. “No, no,” I said, “I want to have the IKEA experience.”

I knew enough to avoid weekend crowds by going in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. I even found ground level parking right outside the store. My tummy was rumbling since I’d come from the gym, so I stopped in the restaurant first. In my imaginings, based on what I’d heard from friends, there would be platters of complimentary Swedish meatballs along every aisle and a fountain of all-you-can-eat frozen yogurt waiting at the end of the maze. I didn’t see any of that yet, but was impressed by the food court offerings. 4 meatballs for $1 and veggie options as well. I filled my belly and began the trek.

I should say that modern European design is not really my taste, so I’m not sure what I was hoping to find there. I’m more of a cozy wooded cabin or, in some cases, beachy bohemian kind of gal. White walls, light colored wood, and all those sharp edges just seem sterile to me. I perused the showrooms. There was so much to see, but none of it that I wanted. Closet organization systems, plastic plants, and squares upon squares. I walked past a model micro-apartment, which apparently singles in cities are flocking to these days. I imagined living there, dying there, and felt sad.

“Grab a cart! You’re about to have your hands full!” The end-cap signs warned. Full of 69 cent plastic wastebaskets, glass cacti, and various lamp shades that somehow all managed to look the same. I twisted and turned, exhausting my feet and eventually settling on some new towels that I kind of needed so no one would question me at the register.

The warehouse at the end seemed convenient and slightly robotic. So many boxes in so many rows. I remembered reading an online forum post once about what it was like to live in Stockholm. The author said that although almost everyone was polite and open-minded, if you had moved from another place and, for example, tried to host a taco dinner on a Tuesday, no one would show up, explaining, “Oh no, not on a Tuesday. Everyone knows Tuesday is pizza night here.”