For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Romans 7:15, 91-20, 8:1-2 (context)
Ian and I went to an actual Ikea building yesterday. I would try to describe it, but I still have the feeling that my soul has been trapped in a swirling Scandanavian hell of everything under the sun stored in one gigantic blue-and-yellow building. Even driving up you get this Disneyland feeling: You drive in the Ikea lane (I kid you not, there are official road signs with IKEA and an arrow for the correct lane) past Costco, Jordan’s Furniture, Home Depot, the Christmas Tree Store, and other warehouse-style shopping places, and when you finally arrive at your destination, bored-looking employees in bright yellow vests direct you where to put your car. Before you ever walk in you see U-Haul trucks lined in parking places and a matron trying to fit a huge mattress into her van. Crowds literally stream towards the doors, and when you walk in you freeze in utter sensory overload. They have a food court. They have maps and signs directing you. You can buy a floor just like the store’s from Ikea. I have never walked through a store where you drive up in a dedicated lane, then can buy a full-sized sheepskin, an orchid, a watering-can, a moon-shaped wall-lamp, a colored glass ball with air bubbles in it, 100 floaty candles for $3, a hotdog, a bed, a metal locker, a huge stuffed Orca whale, ready-to-hang pictures, a clock, rugs, 10.5’-tall curtains, an entire child’s bedroom for $719, dishes of sixteen varieties, kitchen appliances, and hideous folded-paper lamps all at once. And the crowds! People pressing on every side, you spend half your time dodging and excusing yourself and quickly sidestepping, not to mention practically running over wailing young children. Step away from the person you came with and odds are you’ll never see him again. He probably got sucked into a morass of rugs or fake-painted pictures. You could literally buy everything you need for a house in that one building, and when Ian and I left we pinky-swore never to return there again. I can’t imagine suriving another equally shocking Ikea-shopping experience.
Then we went to Jordan’s Furniture, right next door. Why, I can hardly explain. First we looked at their clearance area and admired the enormous fans, labeled Big Ass Fans, spinning apparently slowly in the ceiling fifty feet or more above our heads. Then we went up to the showrooms, tanked up on UV-irradiated water that tasted soapy, and walked through their set-up rooms. As if I can imagine spending $1,000 on a bed. But what a contrast to Ikea and its insane crowds! There were people at Jordan’s furniture, but not in the massing, milling, howling crowds that seemed totally expected and normal at Ikea; and the set-up rooms made us laugh often enough in their gaudy overdonness. They looked like what people imagine rich people would want in their houses, only rich people want furniture you can sit on, not furniture you dust. They also sold customized sports-team-specific recliners, so you can sit in your red-and-blue Red Sox chair while watching a game. We eschewed the MOM (Motion Odyssey Movie, an – I couldn’t make this up – Imax theater in the store) and walked briskly out, but even brisk walking took us fifteen minutes to escape the winding path through endless made-up rooms of furniture. We warded off several sharklike salespeople and I suddenly realized that buying something here would be akin to buying a vehicle in Sleaz-E’s Used Car Lot. No sawdust in there, just the highest-quality parts. We promise.
Afterwards Ian and I felt completely shell-shocked and grateful for our cheap, mismatched, homey furniture. We drove home, slowly working our mouths back closed. Excuse me while I go hug my twenty-year-old hand-me-down couch.