This past Saturday it was my birthday eve and so I got to do whatever I wanted and guess what I wanted to do on a rare sunny, warm day? Drive 30 miles to Ikea, of course. I sort of marketed the trip to Ikea as a "road trip" where we would stop along the way and see the sights. Ikea is so far away that you pass by ship-like boats on the way to get there. And we don't live that close to an ocean. I think we might actually have to drive to Sweden to get to Ikea. Why do I ever think going to Ikea is going to be a good idea? It's like I get Ikea amnesia after every horrible, gut-wrenching visit...sort of like the way you forget how much of a pain being pregnant and having a baby is as soon as you get your babystyle catalog in the mail.
Our trips to Ikea always go about the same way. We think we've missed our exit on the highway and we lose hope that Ikea actually exists and then all of the sudden there it is, like a big blue spaceship rising up on the horizon. The sight of that big, blue building makes me giddy with anticipation of all the the fabulous cheap things I will buy.
Things at Ikea always start off well...we cruise through the showroom floor looking at all the pretend living rooms and bedrooms and imagine ourselves living in them. I love seeing the little worlds that Ikea invents in these spaces, they remind me of life-size dollhouses. And the imaginary people living in these rooms seem like they would be just like me, only much happier because they have all this stuff from Ikea.
Brandon and I usually have a few disagreements in the showroom, but they are good-natured and can be laughed off with a joke or over a plate of swedish meatballs. Once we have picked out our furniture, we head downstairs and that's when things get ugly. You are stuck in the Ikea maze with two tortured preschoolers who are singing and crying alternately and threatening to run screaming right into a glass shelf full of glass things. At this point the world of Ikea has lost its luster. You can see that the $5 BJORKJSEN pillow that looked so cute on the showroom couch is probably $5 for a reason because the zipper on it is already broken and the hip, modern print is pealing in some places. You start to feel a little queasy about all of the furniture you are about to purchase. What if it too is cheap for a reason? Stop being so negative! you say to yourself. You didn't drive all the way to Sweden to stop now! You're here and you're getting some freaking furniture if it kills you. So then you've finally made it to the big warehouse where all of the media centers and bunk beds you've been drooling over upstairs have somehow been reduced to long, skinny, impossibly heavy boxes. The wheels on your dolly only want to go left, but you show them who's boss and push forward diagonally down aisle 26 in search of a FLUEWRUUG mattress.
I will spare you a description of the third-world-ish lines that one must wait in first to pay, then to buy ice cream that has been promised as a reward for all this torture, then there is the home delivery line that you must wait in to have all of these crazy-big boxes delivered (apparently you can't take a queen-sized bed, a mattress and patio furniture home in the trunk of a Passat). The drive home is a solemn one. The youngest falls asleep and the four-and-a-half-year-old makes a list of her demands. You give in to everything. Yes, you say, whatever you want. You have no fight left in you and she knows it.
We put the patio furniture together when we got home. It was relatively easy as Ikea furniture goes. We ordered take-out and ate our dinner outside that night, and maybe it was the MSG or the crisp spring air, but the Ikea labor pains were already starting to become a distant memory at that point. I have my eye on a new FLORLOOG changing table for the baby. I'm sure the next time we go to Ikea it won't be nearly as bad.