The only one that matters, anyway!

I don’t need to confess my love for IKEA. Pretty much anyone who knows me also knows of it. It all started because of this song.

I discovered this song back in 2006. I immediately adopted it as a theme song for my 2004 Nanowrimo project, which had included a group of tree-dwelling gnomes who worshipped IKEA and considered the main hero a saint because his entire apartment was furnished and decorated with IKEA products. It had been a joke at the time, but Jonathan Coulton’s song changed all that. I only wrote about 20,000 words on that project and haven’t touched it since August of 2010, but let’s face it – it’s a silly urban fantasy story about a group of young adults fighting off a demon. Pretty standard and not all that inspired. The IKEA gnomes were easily the best thing about it. One day, when I actually have some talent, I’ll go back and play with it, but for now, it’s just one of those goofy things I’ve got sitting on a USB, a reminder of how absolutely ridiculous I was as a recent college graduate.

I didn’t actually step foot into an IKEA until I moved to Japan. In 2009, I moved to my second teaching position and was pleasantly surprised to learn that an IKEA was a thirty-minute train ride from my (horrible) apartment. Within a month, I had taken my first trip there, buying a blue bag full of stuff, mostly for my classroom. I had to abandon most of it when we moved back to the States, but I did manage to hold onto some items, such as the heart pillow with arms and the alarm clock that’s sitting on my bedside table.

When I moved to Moriya in the summer of 2009, I was determined to have all of my furnishings and decor come from IKEA. I managed about a 95% success rate. I ending up buying some pictures and two lamps at the local Nitori (a home furnishings store that was nearby and useful for many things over the two years I live in Moriya). All of my furniture came from IKEA. I put it all together myself, which is a ridiculous sense of accomplishment but one I refuse to let go of.  Later, when Geordie had moved in with me and we decided to buy a real bed (because getting up off of a futon when you’re six months pregnant is no fun at all), we went to IKEA. We got a bed frame at a discount of 75% because they were discontinuing the model and wanted to get rid of what they had.

It was a huge frame, a King size that took up nearly all the room in the sleeping area of the Moriya apartment. Neither of us wanted to spend the money on a King-size matress, so we got a Queen size from Nitori (see? not quite IKEA but just as good). We put together that bed, slept on it for about six weeks, disassembled it, shipped it to our new place in Susono, and reassembled it. We slept on it for another three months, and then we moved back to the States. We’ve often wondered how it treated whoever got it after us, if it survived being taken apart and put back together again. It was a good bed.

Naturally, as soon as I found out we were moving to San Antonio, I searched for the closest IKEA. It’s in Round Rock, up by Austin, a good two hours drive from the house. Probably for the best. If San Antonio had its own IKEA, I’d probably be there every week. It’s a haven for me, a place where homes are made. It made a home for me in Japan, it made a home for Geordie and me, it helped make a home for Lauren. Perhaps it will make a home for a rainbow in the future.

Also, there are the meatballs.

I love the meatballs. I love them more than any other meatballs out there. I love how well the gravy and the potatoes go with those meatballs. And the cabbage now too, spiked with lingonberry jam and a little lemon juice, because we needed a vegetable.

I love bringing the big bag of meatballs home and just opening it up and plopping them in a baking dish and sticking them in the oven. Obviously, I enjoy doing the homemade thing, but IKEA meatballs are so fast and easy and tasty that I don’t mind their instant-foodyness. And some days, it’s nice to have, especially during a stressful week. It’s a quick meal, but it’s also comforting, and it’s one of my favorite things to make.

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