My college apartment was amazing. Over the course of my three years there I furnished and decorated the whole place, floor to ceiling, with stuff from IKEA. I had couches, tables, chairs, curtains, bookshelves, framed art. The works. I have no idea how much money I spent at IKEA, but it must have been a lot. I remember giving myself a $100 budget every time I went to IKEA and I went often.
Then when I graduated, I gave it all away. I was hitting the road west, to Oregon, and every single thing I owned that wouldn’t fit in my 2-door VW had to go. I could have sold it. I could have stored it all in the big red barn at my parents’ house, but I didn’t. I gave it all to friends, friends of friends and total strangers. To this day, when I go back to Pennsylvania I’m forever asking people, much to my delight, “aren’t those my plates/ curtains/ chairs?”
Last week, hanging around the Bay Area, I paid my first visit to IKEA in many years. I didn’t set myself a $100 budget, but I did intend to buy something, something cute and useful to go in the Teardrop, for old time’s sake. I spent all afternoon walking around that store and didn’t find a single thing.
When you live in a 5X10 foot trailer, whole sections of consumer culture no longer apply. Furniture? Nah. My bed and table are built-in and I have a nice folding camp chair with two cup holders. Kitchen supplies? I have everything I need, except for a grapefruit spoon, which IKEA didn’t have. Lighting? LED lights are built into the Teardrop. Carpet? I already have a carpet, which velcros in and out for easy cleaning. No vacuum necessary. Bedding? I sleep in my sleeping bag. Framed art? I make my own art.
On and on. I walked around and around, looking at everything, in full nostaligia-mode, finding many things I used to own. But I didn’t find anything I needed. Moreover, I didn’t find anything I wanted. I have no place in my life for any of that stuff. I spent $3.50 on a hot dog and soda for my date and an ice cream cone for myself and walked out of IKEA empty handed. After nearly 10,000 miles on the open road in the Teardrop, I’ve never felt so free.