Ikea and Dreams

January 27, 2012
By Rebecca Chan BRONZE, Chicago, Illinois
Rebecca Chan BRONZE, Chicago, Illinois
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Usually, I dreaded the idea of Sunday mornings. The routine was painfully predictable as I lazed around reading the Sunday comics, flipped through articles in the latest edition of Time, or simply caught up on whatever was playing on ABC Family. But this Sunday wasn’t like the other Sundays. This Sunday involved lamps, desks, beds, pillows, sinks, stoves, and an entirely new world of dreams.

Ikea was the biggest store my ten year-old eyes had ever seen. Absorbing its boxy blue and yellow façade, I kept imagining what a huge building like that could hold inside.

As the grooves of the escalator slowly approached the top, I saw a labyrinth of colorful rooms snaking down the aisles and I was immediately drawn.

I slowly walked toward the first bedroom setup, noticing the cream wallpaper, the dark picture frames containing images of a happy couple, the plain white dresser on the right, and the lacy pillow covers on a bed that was beckoning me to curl in. An image suddenly flashed into my mind. I was twenty-seven, living on my own in the big city. I laid there in the same large bed with the lacy pillow covers, waking up to the melody of honking cars and tire screeches in symphony with the constant blaring of my alarm. I got up, reaching for the nicely-ironed dark work suit that hung next to the plain white dresser. After buttoning that last button, I combed my hair and applied my makeup in front of the large mirror on the bedroom door. I took one last glance at myself in the mirror, gave myself an assuring smirk, then grabbed the briefcase sitting on the chair and quickly walked out the door. Back at Ikea, my mind dwelled on the image for a long time, fascinated with the life I saw.

I passed several other rooms, each with ther own unique theme and color palette. I finally stopped at a kitchen setup. The sleek burgundy cabinets caught my eye, and I imagined my very own set of china within them. An island with a glossy marble countertop stood in the middle, with high bar stools on the sides. My mind zoomed into the future once again, and nothing could stop my imagination. And there I was, in my early forties, with the onset of wrinkles appearing at the corners of my eyes. Casually strolling into my kitchen. I flipped on the switch that started the coffeemaker and the smell of those Columbian grinds immediately filled the air. A green tint shone upon the room, from the large tree towering at the head of the driveway. I sat on the stool near the island, going through the news on my internet homepage. I prepared my coffee with the exact amounts of cream and sugar that suited my stubborn taste and opened a spreadsheet with many numbers on it. Quietly calculating the monthly profits, I cracked a small smile; it had been a good month. I shook my head a little, returning back to reality.

At the end of the hall, I finally came to a tall room setup. Three walls were lined with bookshelves filled with thousands of books from the ceiling to the floor and the fourth was a tall window overlooking everything outside. My mind wandered ahead for one last time. I was older, I couldn’t pinpoint what age, but I could see the gleam of several grays on my head. I sat on the old brown sofa, worn in the one corner I always planted myself in every night. I glanced over at the awards and certificates that hung upon the wall, but they didn’t matter quite as much anymore. I was still proud, but their significance was now somewhere in the past. I was in the mood for a mystery tonight. Pulling out a James Patterson novel from the shelf, I curled up in my fleece blanket and opened up the cover, devouring the words under the warm glow of the lamp. My mind slowly hazed back into the atmosphere of the store, and I found found myself sitting on the brown sofa with a satisfied smile across my face.

That Sunday morning, I entered Ikea with no intentions at all, simply following my parents who were looking for a new coffeetable for our living room. But I left Ikea discovering several things.

My mind was opened to the millions of scenarios my future held. The vast array of rooms allowed me to imagine the different stages of my life, and where I really wanted things to head. My imagination allowed me to visualize life as I wanted it to be, in twenty years, thirty years, even fifty years. I developed a better sense of who I wanted to be, where I wanted to be, and why I wanted to be there. I discovered more about myself than I had ever planned on discovering.

With a better grasp of what I saw in my future, I had an ideal to strive towards, a roadmap of my life that I could follow. It gave me something to think about, to imagine, to alter as my tastes changed. It was my very own, and I could plan every step of it. So this is the story of how I walked into Ikea looking for a coffee table and came out with my future instead.

The author's comments:
An assignment for my Multicultural Literature class was to find a college essay prompt and to answer it, for practice. From what most seniors had told me, writing college essays seemed like a long, painful process. But I stumbled across this prompt from the University of Chicago, asking me to describe an experience where I found something I wasn't looking for. In this piece on Ikea, I hope to share the impact that a simple furniture layout had on my dreams for my own future.

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