By Esther C. Baird/Tri-Town Transcript columnist
First Published in the Tri-Town Transcript May 14, 2014
This past April break was mostly a stay-cation for Casa Baird. We attended birthday parties and play dates, and we visited North Conway for a few days mid-week. But, because I am nothing if not a mother who knows how to have a good time in the freezing, wet, Boston metro area during ‘spring’ break, I planned one more outing.
“Girls!” I announced, “we are going on an adventure!”
My seven year old looked uncertain. I had just accidentally taken them hiking on a trail that ended at a cliff face where we’d nearly plummeted into an icy ravine. Her trust in my sense of adventure was . . . low.
I continued. “We’re going to a place that is like another country where everything is functional, yet colorful; it even has its own language. Best of all, it’s a country with amazing meatballs.” My girls were sure I’d lost my mind. I probably had, given that we were headed to that storied land of IKEA, on a Saturday, “to buy Ektorp Tullstas!” I announced with glee.
I hadn’t visited IKEA in about ten years, and certainly not since I’d lived in the Tri-Towns, with daughters, who had opinions. But I had plan. There’d be no whim buying of odd items named Bolmen or Laborg. We’d zip in and zip out.
And we did zip in – – into the parking garage where recorded sounds of tropical birds bounced off the cement walls and cars. I didn’t think Sweden, or any part of Scandinavia, was famous for parrots or macaws . . . it left me disorientated, which is no way to enter a building full of the wafting smells of baked goods.
“Free coffee for ten more minutes!” chirped a spontaneously appearing IKEA employee. Befuddled by the birds, I shook my head. Free coffee? Sure, always. But once in the cafe, it was obvious we also needed cinnamon buns and juice. A whim purchase! And the store wasn’t even technically open.
When it did open, people surged forward clutching bright yellow bags. I renewed my commitment to our plan. “Girls, we just need to find our Tullstas, then we’ll pay and,” I tried to sound rationale, “get meatballs!”
But once you enter IKEA, there is only one way through each perfectly set up, zero clutter, well decorated room. Rooms that could exist both on a space station, or at a funky farmstead in New Zealand. Rooms where very obviously amazing things happened. I felt myself being washed away in owl printed, sepia toned, blankets on lofted beds and desks named Hoolta.
When we did find our Tullstas, we sat in them confirming they were for us, (you knew a Tullsta was a chair right?) but before we could purchase them, we still had to wander through a maze of stylish frames and fabulous fake plants and tea lights by the brick-load.
The Glimmas unhinged me.
I could buy zillions of Glimmas and some Sinnligs for mere dollars! A life supply of tea lights! I swept them into my yellow bag along with Neglinges and a new Vanadin for our older daughter’s desk, not to mention Fantastiks for the guest bathroom.
Then, weighed down by my yellow bag of whimsy, the girls helped me as I personally hauled the Ektorp Tullstas onto our rolling pallet in the IKEA warehouse that is so do-it-yourself chic. I was a hazard to behold, pushing our six foot high stacked Tullstas into a line I could not see, and carrying, like a bedraggled Santa Claus, my yellow bag across my back.
My older daughter ran ahead yelling out course corrections, while my younger daughter stayed behind me so as not to get run over. Finally we huffed across the checkout line and purchased the required Frakta to put our stuff in (and possibly a few Choklad Nots) and congratulated ourselves on following our plan so well.
Or at least the meatball part of the plan, they were amazing, as promised.