Went back to Ikea today to return a duvet cover that had some togetherness issues. I was refunded the $20, and then promptly spent $80 more walking through my favorite place on earth. Some people find Ikea overwhelming, but I absolutely love it. I went a little too late for lunch, so I skipped the meatballs in favor of a $1 soft pretzel. I even had enough willpower to share it with my dad. My mom joined in the fun with her own $1 cone of frozen yogurt.
I was reminded of my many trips to Ikea while living in Beijing, where the food was by far the most popular attraction. In the few years I lived there, I witnessed the construction of one of the largest Ikea stores in the world. Despite the fact that the store contained copious amounts of ridiculously cheap merchandise (due to the lack of import fees), most people lined up to grab handfuls of 1 kuai (12 cent) hotdogs. I went to raid the Swedish foodmart for pickled herring, gravlax, and vodka. But I digress.
For me, there is something calming and reassuring about walking through the Ikea warehouse. I know the order of things, how the departments flow seamlessly from one to the next. I know what products are standard, and which items are new. I even enjoy the element of controlled chaos, with the narrow aisles, children running, and the strangely wide turning radius of those utility carts. No matter what country I’m in, Ikea makes me feel at home.