Days off had been scarce. Multi-day vacations had been a different story. It had taken three months of badgering and fake crying, but I’d finally been granted time off and the office schedule had been locked, set in stone, blood, or dramatically permanent ink made from gypsy tears.
Everything had been perfect, but my plans had exploded in my face like a letter bomb or vomiting friend. I came to discover that Fun-Boat Money Business Dudes LLC was not a real cruise line and that “Party Nation” was not an actual country. No “hedonism liners” outfitted with foie gras troughs and co-ed naked pillow fight arenas actually existed anywhere—it was all just a dummy corporation used to launder charitable donations.
The not-shaving, near-naked malaise of a stay-cation felt a little too much like a taste of unemployment for me. On my days off I wanted adventure, and I wanted to spend as little money as possible.
A truly existential fear of missing out floored me. The Internet was most unhelpful. All of their so-called “life hacks” involved frivolous little changes, like designating a bowl for your keys, cutting watermelon differently, or reassuring yourself each morning that you’re beautiful. The Internet wasn’t going to salvage my vacation for me.
With my first day off upon me, I trudged to IKEA to calm my agitation and impending sense of wasted life with two-for-a-dollar hot dogs.
Success. Within forty minutes I was bloated, disgustingly sweaty from eating so fast, and completely distracted from everything else. A hot-dog fog clouded my thought process. My fine motor skills and sentence structuring ability were quickly deteriorating. Drunk on cheap meat, I scurried up into a lofted bed intended for small adults who can only afford 170 square feet of apartment.
In my haze I’d mixed up the AM/PM on my alarm. IKEA had been closed for four hours when I awoke to find myself locked within a completely dark and deserted window-less store full of confusing Swedish script. If motion sensors existed I’d be caught and have to explain what I’d done and why now this lofted mattress pad now reeked of hot-dog sweat. I wouldn’t leave this bed. This was my camp now. This had become my adventure.
The experience continued early Saturday. People flocked to spend money and argue. With the store open again, I descended, eager to embrace my remaining three days of vacation. The day began with breakfast in the café. Money is obsolete when you’re fine with just interrupting and straight up asking people for their leftover meatballs. From there I took a nap under a pile of rugs, the lingonberry sauce and my dingleberry sauce coalescing together into a series of silent-but-dank farts that deterred any investigators.
This vacation had everything once I snagged a high-proof fortified wine from an adjacent gas station. I was living off the grid, but not in some filthy forest full of insects and hippies. This was far cheaper than Panama City; plus it still had all the edible samples, the army of minimum-wage minions cleaning up my messes, and an evergreen crop of relationships unraveling.
Now, two meatball-heavy days packed with strawberry wine later, I’m ready to return home. I don’t need a vacation after this vacation, but a shower and a toothbrushing couldn’t hurt.
I’ll be giving you all five stars on TripAdvisor, IKEA; can’t wait to get my pictures developed!