Thursday, August 5, 2010

First IKEA Visit

I made my first pilgrimage to IKEA this past Sunday. My oldest daughter will be moving out this month, so we took a trip to find a bed: a decent, full size mattress that will last her for a while.

I had a similar feeling when I walked into Whole Foods for a first time: a little overwhelmed, awe-struck by the sheer scale of the display in a temple devoted to consumption.

Those IKEA folks must have taken a page from Disney: they shepherd you along a well-marked trail throughout the store so you have to see everything they have to offer. The number of path choices are limited and winding.

We looked at several beds that were nice before settling on one that suited her well. We asked about pickup and delivery options. IKEA won't bring it to her new apartment, but there's a store nearby that would make the pickup easier. (I wasn't thinking today; we should have brought a car that's bigger than a Honda Civic so we could have taken our purchase away.) We'll probably just go back to this store before she leaves to minimize running around on moving day.

It's an emotional thing to see one of my children leaving home. I remember it being a very hard thing for me to do, both when I took the half-step out of the house to go to college and the full, headlong leap into my first job and apartment upon graduation. The job didn't pay much. I didn't have a lot of possessions: a bed, a stupid desk bought at a second-hand store that I was convinced was worth refinishing, two guitars, a small all-in-one stereo, my clothes, and a few kitchen items so I could feed myself.

It wasn't a young man's bachelor pad, by any stretch. I don't recall either of my parents setting foot in it during the two years I lived there. No one who came to visit once came back a second time. I can't tell if it was because the company was poor or the lack of a couch to sit on.

But it was my place. If I came home from work and wanted to swim or play basketball before cooking dinner, so be it. One of the reasons I've become such an avid swimmer was that I had an indoor pool available to me every day. It was a bathtub - just 20 yards long - but it gave me the chance to practice my poor freestyle in relative privacy without worrying about being run over by better swimmers or cannonballed by flying children.

I didn't have a television set, so there were few distractions. I'd listen to the public radio station for company: Robert J. Lurtsema on WFCR was the star of the dial. His "Morning Pro Musica" program would start every day at 6 AM with themes like Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances Suite (thanks to Google and 10engines for this nugget). There was one piece, whose title escapes me, that I learned how to play on the guitar. It was always a pleasure to hear it and think to myself "I know how to play that."

I rekindled my love of classical guitar after a four-year undergraduate hiatus by going to the music store down the street and signing up for lessons. My teacher was a young Hartt School graduate named Jim Petrie. He was a terrific teacher. I wish I could say I was a better student. I practiced faithfully, usually in the morning before I went to work. I found the early hours lent themselves to this sort of thing.

When I married my wife she was the one who brought "stuff": a huge, comfortable couch from her parents that was long enough to stretch out and take naps on; lamps; end tables. One point of friction at first was the television. If I liked listening to the radio for company, she liked to have the television on. I chafed under the new regime at first - until the NBA playoffs rolled around. I was happy to be able to watch a young Larry Bird face down the Houston Rockets.

You never forget your first apartment. I hope my daughter makes good memories in hers.

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