The Ultimate IKEA Experience

Becoming an adult means that IKEA trips (or Homy trips, the chilean version of IKEA, but whatever) are not just “fun trips” anymore, when I used to tag along with my mom and would throw useless decorative items into the trolley. Nope. Becoming an adult means that you have to pay for the stupid shit you think is a good idea to bring back home with you or watch it stay in the racks, which makes the whole experience a lot less enjoyable than it was when I was younger. Who knew candles were so expensive? Is it me, or curtains are ridiculously overpriced?

It would seem like this should totally destroy the whole point of going to an IKEA/Homy/B&M store in the first place…but the reality is, it doesn’t. After careful consideration of the situation, I’ve reached this conclusion: I can’t take home that rose gold pineapple candle holder (or I could, I’m sure some of you have and don’t regret it for a second), but I can still put it in the trolley until I get to the checkout. I most certainly shouldn’t, under any circumstances, buy a 20 pairs shoe rack for the shoes I can perfectly fit in my closet, but I can stand in front of it for a solid ten minutes just imagining how good my shoes would look on it.

The magic of these stores is the experience, not all the stuff you can potentially buy or not. Even when I know I’m going for something specific, like a bin basket or a shaggy rug or a set of fake flowers, I always end up walking through the whole thing, because that’s exactly what we are supposed to do. That’s how they were designed, and we have to respect the holy tradition: no matter what, we shall wander around each section and aisle with every ounce of patience and curiosity our bodies possess. Because maybe, just maybe, there’s something there that I didn’t know I needed until I lay eyes on it, like that “inspirational” poster with three words on a font that makes me believe I can live, love and laugh at the same time. Or I’ll suddenly remember I broke one of my six mugs two days ago, and will decide to purchase one to replace it—five isn’t really an even number, right?. It doesn’t even matter if I leave the store with the one and only item I came to purchase (that door stopper I desperately need to be able to close the bathroom door that won’t work and I refuse to repair): what matters is that I had the experience, and nobody can take that away from me, not even the fact that I can’t afford even the cheapest candle.

My point is: I might not be able to exit the store with a fake pineapple, a plastic shoe rack, an un-inspirational poster or yet another mug, but I can still walk aimlessly for an hour and a half imagining how much lovelier my place could be if I did. How much more of an adult can you even be?

Siham Lee is a Chilean writer living in Glasgow. She’s currently doing a Mlitt in Creative Writing while writing short stories to keep herself alive and mentally stable in the midst of working on her first novel. The rest of the time she’s either rewatching Brooklyn 99 for the ninth time or eating all the cookies in the house.

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