Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

Accidental Tourist at IKEA

Another surreal thing happened to me today. GK and I headed out to IKEA Emeryville, and of course I loved seeing some Goteburg cookies and identifying with the place, not just seeing it as a brand name, and then reading a wall describing the history of IKEA- started in the 40’s? what? and realizing that a short month or so ago, the numbers with SEK would also have been meaningless to me, or confusing actually. (SEK = Swedish Crowns, aka Swedish $$$.) But now visiting this store, with the quest in mind of buying Enn his own bed for his own room because his baby brother constantly wakes him up just after 6am, well, now this store has so much more nostalgia about being about a country that I now love.


I still miss it! I read the Sartorialist blog, which is all fashiony, and he travels to Stockholm sometimes, and I see the blurred backgrounds of his portraits, and it can take me back to the humid overcast days I spent there, with the cobblestone streets and the 10 full days of uninterrupted adult conversation. I have to say that feeling like a grown up again was probably the best part about that whole thing. That, and being able to take daily showers without having to rush because I’m worried that the boys are making trouble in my absence (and they often are.)

So, here’s the surreal thing:

I am in the IKEA cafe that heads out the door once you check out, and Zee and I are exploring the many varieties of pickled herring (not my fave) and the lingonberry stuff (fave) and the crisp breads (oh remember that!) and then I stop in front of the crayfish paper goods. And the sign read:

Imagine a summer cottage near a small lake on a moon-lit night, somewhere in Sweden. Then imagine the back yard where the table is set with serving trays overflowing with bright red crayfish. Paper lanterns in the form of smiling moons glow in the darkness. One can hear laughter, slurping, songs, and an occasional “skol!”

Imagine it?!? I was just there in this very place!

Almost to the tee it described a late lunch at the summer home of the bride’s parents, I think the day before the wedding. Anyway, there is so much nostalgia for me about Sweden. Because GK has family there now (his cousin has stayed there with his wife & son), I say I have family there in a way, and there’s that connection. Fond memories there. I wonder if we’ll return one day? I hope I can take the boys next time.

I was at a birthday party today, overflowing with toddlers with peeled off clothes (Zee in his tighty Elmo undies that are a size too big and hang off his cute buns, made all the looser because they & he were soaking wet) and at this party, GK & I chatting it up with our neighbors about our European trips (theirs to Rome/London/somewhere else.) And birthday girl & fam just returned from Germany. Then there’s us and our adventures. And it strikes me that I will probably visit many amazing places all over the planet in my lifetime (I hope.) It’s been such a short amount of time (comparatively) in human history that this was even possible. Mark Twain was a travel writer at times, and his travels involved months and ocean liners, and here we are to Europe & back in 10 days. And I may go to these places and fall in love over & over again, but here I will always return, this is my home where my roots go deep.  Deep, even though I am not white & the neighborhood where I live was Whites Only until the 1960’s. I get access to this real life exposure to the world, but I will always return to this life, and here is where it all happens- the most important parts of my life, my kids, my family, my everything is here. And my grandmother never traveled anywhere (that I know of) outside of migrant labor travel. And moving from Mexico to California. And I read a book (Women of the World?) a photojournalism book profiling women from all over the world, and there was this woman from Nepal, an aging woman, and what was her great dream? To travel. And here I am, and I get to live this dream. How amazing is that.

And coming soon:

San Diego, Calif- Nov 2008. San Diego Zoo, Sea World…


South Korea: 2009.

I am hoping to tack on Tokyo & Hawaii, too, is that asking too much?

Probably! ha ha.

2 Replies to “Accidental Tourist at IKEA”

  • Cool! South Korea?! very cool. We dream of traveling. One day, when the kids are a wee bit older. You are blessed, to go out and see this world, and show your kids, that is such a blessing.

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