My happy place has meatballs

I am overdue for a visit to my happy place. I try to go once every few months, just for the rush of energy to welcome in a new season and all the lovely seasony things that go with it. Some may scoff, but my friends all know that when I check in on Facebook “at my happy place” it can only mean one place – IKEA.

Whenever I walk through those sliding glass doors into that blindingly colorful yet sensibly organized wonderland, I feel as if I am my five-year-old self allowed to run free in a real-life game of Candyland. The food market is like my Gumdrop Forest. And it is truly too easy to get lost and find yourself in Molasses Swamp a/k/a the home storage department.

Sometimes I like to sit in one of the fake living rooms and pretend I’m waiting for my Swedish hockey player husband to come home. His name is Lars. After an hour though, the yellow-shirted army starts eyeballing me like a wolverine eyes a lame reindeer. I don’t understand what’s so weird about it.

The truth is, IKEA is only a substitute for Sweden, which I visited too briefly in 2004. Aside from my travel companion, it was the happiest I can ever remember being. From the moment I stepped out of the airport, it just smelled green. For a treehugging, Al Gore voting, environmental law school with composting toilet graduate, this was like nirvana. Miles of aspen and pine trees. Subway stations with art galleries. Spotless subway cars you could eat pickled herring on the floor of without wiping up multiple mystery body fluids. Parks on every block. Bodies of water at every turn. Litter free streets. Happy looking people who seemed to walk to work at 10, take 2-hour lunches in said parks, then stop working at 4. I’m not sure if anyone really works there. Midnight sun. And so many pretty Swedish men I could overlook their love of tight suits and odd footwear. Yes, that is my idea of heaven on Earth.

So until I write that bestseller and can afford to buy a cottage in Sweden with Lars, I will have to make due with my Swedish meatballs and lingonberry juice, followed by a nap in an ergonomic bed that can store 1700 books AND grow hydroponic vegetables.

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