On the other hand I sometimes go to a store for a simple need, ie, I need a pair of black trousers. And I see all these things laid out in ways that match and look so sharp and professional, and I feel like a fraud or a bad immitation of a successful adult, trying to get by with the same knit or collared shirts I've had for years and just rotating a new pair of pants underneath.
Then I feel dumb, because hello, I'm not a failure, I'm a pretty normal young adult (or, I was before I was in school again), and therefore who, just who, is expected to buy this stuff? Not quite high-end enough for the rich or the comfortable middle-class, but out of reach for the working class, new graduates, and the students to which it is marketed. So clearly, someone wants us to use our credit cards. And that bums me out too.
So, it's been established, then, I hate shopping, in general. But Ikea has a shelf that I desperately want, so yesterday I went about 2.5 hours away to the Ikea outside of Boston.
Ikea, for those who have never been, is set up explicitly to make you walk in a uni-directional path through displays of all the various items that are for sale. All of the furniture is flat-packed and unassembled for purchase, but it's set up all through the enormous showrooms, and the showroom is composed of a series of rooms showcasing not only the furniture, but lights, rugs, textiles, accessories, toys, and art, mostly photographs. It's almost like Ikea is a museum. In fact, there's a very museum feel to some of it, as in the places where they've set up tiny little apartments labeled with signs that say things like "LIVING in 457 square feet. Come steal our ideas-- we want you to! Come in and see how you can live well in a small space-- and well within your means." Mostly this means making use of vertical space and wall space (one apartment was 254 sq feet and featured a loft bed over the sofa) and lots of light, white, and natural-colored surfaces. I didn't find the matchy-ness of it depressing, but actually kind of delightful. It was fun.
As I wandered through Ikea with the other people who seemed happy enough to wander (I imagine I'm not the only one who made the trip with one specific item in mind... and technically I could have walked right to the flat pack area, selected the thing, and hit the road, but no one else seemed to be doing that either) I realised that really, if I find it this charming, it's not because I've had some change of heart about shopping. It's not luck. It's something planned. The minds behind Ikea knew who I was before I walked in, and they got me.
(The shelves were too big by a few inches to fit into the Best Friend's car, so we left them for another day, when we can come with a truck. But we did get a nice hamper for the bathroom, some accoutrements for the kitchen, and a few things that I am squirrling away to be used as presents later. In the Swedish Marketplace we bought salmon, rye bread, lingonberry mousse, and coffee. That is easily more than I've bought just for the fun of shopping in a day in years.)
Shows where some loud-mouth comes into your house and whines about how everything looks thrown together from a bunch of different styles and years, though, bug me. I was thinking about it, as the shelf won't really match anything in the living room, and I'll certainly never be as matchy as the Ikea model rooms. (An ad for Ikea a few years ago showed an obviously divorcing couple throwing each other's things around, and ended with the Ikea logo and the question-- Starting Over? Starting over from nothing is pretty much the only way you'd ever get to be that matching, I'm guessing, that or you'd have to have a plan from the time you moved out of your parents' house and do without as you carefully assembled a collection piece by piece.) The kitchen table is from my parents' house, the shelf was made by my dad and I from unfinished lumber and then finished, another book shelf is apparantly made from a discarded church pew and inherrited from a moving neighbor, the table the TV is on was from a garage sale. It all works. Some day I might be able to go back to Ikea, buy up all the stuff that will match my wonderful shelf, and chuck everything else, but wouldn't that just be a total waste? It's not like I'm living in squalor. Just not matching. All the stuff comes from different times and moments in my life. At the time I got most of the stuff, I'd worked hard for it, "crappy" though it may be, and in a way it represents various moments in my life and bunya's life and the life we have together. And, as a character in a Kevin Smith film would tell you, life is a series of shared moments. So I'll stick with my non-matching house, and just use this stuff until it crumbles into scale.