A funny trip out this past week. I've been needing to get dining chairs for my new apartment and Ikea seemed like the right place to go. In a completely wrong right way, because Ikea never fails to induce anxiety in me at some point or another. So, to calm my nerves, I gathered my crew of Jessica, Bethany and her boyfriend Johnny and off to Burbank we went. With the troops to distract me from feeling trapped, it was really quite fun.
We walked the aisles together, our strange little family, and I played house in the kitchen section, sat them down and offered them a beer from the refrigerator. Going to Ikea always reminds me of my trip to Sweden when I was 18 and in love. I can say this with certainty, they are not kidding that Ikea is a Swedish company. I mean, everything is so Swedish! I ended up buying a set of wooden utensils that I don't need just because they were the spitting image of a set I brought back from Sweden so many years ago.
That's a plus for Ikea and me, that nostalgia. Not only of my first love, but of my first trip out of the country by myself. Learning how much I love to travel. Dreaming of the future in all of its robust possibility. Realizing how good it feels to be on my own and brave and venture into the world with courage and joy and optimism. The promise of getting to be me on a long and bright adventure through life. God, I could just sit in the feelings those thoughts conjure forever. I changed my mind, I love Ikea.
Everyone managed to find something to take home with them. Me, I found my chairs easily and even seat covers for them! But, anxiety moment, I had to grab a cart to pick the chairs up in the aisles and the second my fingers were wrapped around that handle and the wheels were rolling, I blurted out that I hate pushing shopping carts. Well, now, the looks I got for that comment! I guess it is weird, so we had to analyze it for a while and I took back the word hate but said I've just never liked it. And, with much discussion, I finally came to the realization that the reason I've never liked pushing carts is because it makes me feel like an adult too much, like a mom in a grocery store or something. We didn't come to a complete understanding, but I got it, anyway.
After that long trek through Sweden consolidated, we decided to have lunch, in celebration of my new chairs and finally the real prospect of my house-warming party (well, that's what I was celebrating, anyway). Our options were limited. So we ended up at California Pizza Kitchen. Man, it felt like such a grown-up restaurant to me. Like, families go there when they visit California. People who work in tall buildings and offices eat there on their lunch breaks. Not our motley tribe. We have picnics in parks and venture to funky taco places in the middle of the afternoon and somehow manage to never have to feel too serious or structured. And I don't know what that means for us, but there it is, and I love that we do that.
But, that feeling like an adult theme, and not liking it, came up twice for me that day. I guess, all in all, I realized something very true and crucial about myself on that journey out to Burbank. Well, something I've always known since I was very young. Like, too young to even be thinking about it.
Here's the thing. I've gotten over so many of my fears in life. Not all, but many. And it took a lot of effort to do so. But there is one thing that I am still terrified of. When I was young, it was growing up. When I was older, it was aging. Now, I guess I'd call it my mortality. None of those are the right word, but it's really always been the same thing.
I mean, I'm not afraid of getting older, actually. And I'm not even afraid of death, really, because I think that somehow it's a good transition waiting for us, though I have no idea, of course. But when I think about not being able to be me, this person I have been and become and grown into, eternally, I am overcome with, to be honest, complete and utter sorrow and panic.
It's the one thing I can think about that will instantly bring tears to my eyes. It's the one thing I have to force myself to stop thinking about or I will just get lost down the tunnel of melancholy. Like, I actually have to shake myself out of it and flutter my hands about and take a few deep breaths to try and get the thought away from me. And I guess I just have to think how good it is that I like being me so much. And realize that it's only gotten better, existing. So I just have to stop worrying about it and proceed.
I know that's what I have to do, or I risk spoiling the experience altogether. That would be worse than anything. Missing it because I was too worried about losing it. So here I go, still, as me, happily. And, I'll tell you what, I'm going to start believing that a mystified child can also push a shopping cart.