Hey, I found an old story in the archives, and I thought it'd make a nice summer story. I'm on vacation with Wife, probably riding our bikes around town, stopping for cups of coffee, reading good books, and hanging out. Below you'll find Part I of the story that will be published in four parts in the next four days, but automatically - at 9 am CET - so I can, you know, stay on vacation.

Summer: FAKTUM

At IKEA with the missus. He he he”. That’s the message that marks the public start of our relationship. While my Swedish, pigtailed girlfriend was checking out a blue kitchen cupboard, and measuring it with her eyes to see how it would fit in my apartment, I was leaning on a wall some 10 meters away, sending text messages to my friends.

FAKTUM.


Naturally, the above message was in code, but I was sure my friend could interpret it correctly. IKEA was the symbol for a steady relationship, and seriousness. The "missus" stood for fake possessiveness and the fact that the sender was head over heels in love and had, in his head, let go of his single life. And last, the “he he he” was a little poke, a little nudge of the elbow, a call for acceptance from the said friend. “You know what I mean, bud.” Between us guys. We’re all in the same boat, it was bound to happen, and wasn’t it exactly what we had been looking for. And yet, it felt like I was jumping onboard, still trying to stay in land as well.

Vad tycker du?” Agnes said, turning towards me. “Would this work in the kitchen?”

I walked over to her, pulled her close and stroked her arm with my hand. Of course the cupboard would be just perfect - perfect - in my kitchen. She had already decorated her own apartment in that classy, and tasteful way so why wouldn’t she be able to turn my, um, bachelor pad into something an adult man could call home? I mean, she herself was charming, intelligent, beautiful, warm, considerate and such an international woman, so … fantastically foreign. I held her hand and squeezed it. Agnes looked me straight in the eye and smiled. We knew that that cupboard would, at some point, be moved to a place of our own anyway.

“I’ll take it,” I said, counting the days to my payday in my head. Today was the 23rd, and the 25th was the nationwide payday in Sweden. Something I learned quickly after I had moved into the country.

We walked on, slowly, towards the IKEA warehouse. We walked hand in hand, looking at the beautiful IKEA kitchens. In a kitchen just like those, we, too, would eat breakfast together, discuss the great questions of life, struggle with our tax returns, and exchange comments about the news in our morning papers.

In one of those smart and efficient bathrooms, we’s brush our teeth, wearing our fluffy IKEA bathrobes. In the corner, we’d have one of those practical laundry baskets, the kind that also turns into a spare seat, a bag, and a shower cabin.

And in a bedroom just like the one we saw there, we’d then lie in bed and read, we’d have our cups of coffee and tea on those night tables, and all our clothes would be hanging in big closets just like the one we were looking at right then.

In one those office corners…

One day. Not today, though. We had found paradise and there was no need or space for anybody else. In our eyes, this entire biggest-Ikea-in-the-world was empty.

We had been dating for just three months, we I ‘m sure we’d spent more time together than some couples I knew who had been together for a year. That’s what we told each other, anyway. We had only been apart nine hours since our first date. Agnes had slept - eight hours - in her apartment our third night, and I had been to the dentist once.

We arrived in the warehouse and began looking for the cupboard. I was carrying a yellow Ikea bag, with a package of blue napkins in it. A 100-pack. “They’re really cheap, and you always need napkins,” Agnes had said when she had picked them up as soon as we had entered the store.

“I wonder where that cupboard is, what number was it again?” I asked.

“J132,” Agnes said. “That way,” she said pointing towards the exit with her hand.

And then we kissed.

“I wonder where that cupboard is, what number was it again?” I asked.

“J132,” Agnes said. “That way,” she said pointing towards the exit with her hand.

And then we kissed.

You get the picture. We were there for a good while.

Anyway, I wasn’t even looking for the cupboard, I just followed Agnes, holding her hand in mine. Finally, she stopped and pointed at the sign on the shelf. J132. All right, I thought, let’s get the show on the road. I wiped the surface of the brown box with my hand, and was greeted by a cloud of dust. I looked at the big, black block letters on the box. It said, “FAKTUM”. I pulled it a little closer to me. It didn’t weigh all too much, maybe 20 kilos, but it wasn’t anything I wanted to drag with me around town, either. With the box under my one arm, and a yellow Ikea bag - and a pack of 100 napkins, blue in it - in my other hand, we walked towards the exit.

It’s hard to say how long we stood in line there, but I remember hoping that the obvious smell of sweat I felt in my nose would stay inside my jeans jacket.

Agnes also picked up a pack of candles. And a potato peeler for the left-handed. And some yellow napkins. And something else that I didn’t see but was told was “always good to have in the house”.

I paid for the cupboard and the napkins without even noticing how much they cost. I just had eyes for Agnes. She was busy packing everything into the Ikea bag. Afterwards, I carried the bag and the cupboard, and somehow managed to hold Agnes’s hand while we walked back to the car that I had so perfectly parked in the shadow, close to the exit.

At home, I started to put the cupboard together, and later that day, we carried it to the kitchen. The door didn’t close properly, but other than that, things were perfect. Just perfect.

(To be continued...)

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