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Birthday Nicer than Last Year's
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
My birthday was better this year than it was last year. Probably because I spent the majority of it out of town. I went up to Ikea in Canton, Michigan, and even though I missed a turn off and landed on the western edge of Detroit (which looked like it had been bombed a couple days before) I managed to get pointed back in the right direction and reach my destination. I feel somewhat guilty shopping at Ikea. I mean, I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart, and Ikea basically employs low-wage workers, both foreign and domestic, to keep their prices super-low. However, where Wal-Mart annoys, Ikea enthralls. Wal-Mart has a weird smell that I would recognize even in Calcutta. Ikea sells stuff on the cheap, but it gives hope to proletariats like me that a nice looking room is within financial reach. It may take me a couple of years, given my financial circumstances, but piece-by-piece, I can turn at least one of the rooms in my house into an Ikea masterpiece.
I have to say Ikea is the one retailer that I actually feel comfortable going to. The lighting, the arrangement of furniture in the showroom, the efficiency of procedures and the lack of salespeople asking me if I need help every five minutes is a pleasure. For me, Ikea is a treasure trove. I see a shelving unit for $15 that would work just fine, but a few more minutes of browsing leads me to a wooden bookcase for just $10 more, which I can well afford. So I stay close to my budget of $100 Iíve allotted for my Ikea shopping spree. I overshoot it by $8 or so, but I stopped to have lunch in their cafeteria, and I also saw a set of curtains for $2 I couldnít pass up.
Knowing my limited budget, when Iíd reached it, I packed everything up in the car and started home. I stopped in a convenience store and found my beloved brand of cheese popcorn I canít find in Fort Wayne. I picked up a couple bags and started munching on one as I headed west, then south on I-69. I was hoping Iíd be able to sit in the lounge at the Coliseum to see the Komets win the Presidentís Cup. The Saturday night fans were hoping for a sweep, a kind usher said I could watch in the lounge since the game was sold out. They lost, and when I came to the Monday game, it was sold out again. However, fate was with me. When I spoke to an usher, he plucked a ticket tucked into a sign and handed it to me. I hugged him and went to my seat in section 600. I watched the Komets win another championship. It turned out to be a great birthday; better than last year. It was one of those rare days where everything worked out.
My day was not without some emotion. While driving, I heard ďI Melt With YouĒ by Modern English twice; both times I cried. Thereís something about that song that triggers the tears. Itís not that my teen years were so great, but it was the feeling that I had a lot of time ahead of me, that there was plenty of time to get it right. Iíve been talking about future plans with a few people I know, and the reaction has been favorable. What frightens me is that it took me so long to figure out what I should have been doing. But how can you know at age 18 what it is you want to do for a living? Even if you do know what you want to do for a living, what if you canít make a living at it? You need a fallback plan, or you end up starving and homeless.
I also thought of where I was five years ago. My personal life seemed really exciting at that point. I was accomplishing things and meeting new people, and for the first time in a long while, life seemed like fun. The fact that five years has passed at what seems like a blink of an eye is horrifying. But itís something Iíll have to get used to.
In the meantime, Iíll appreciate those cherry days, where everything falls right into place.