Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who was the favorite of her father, the king. As a little girl she brought him such joy, with her rosy countenance and golden curls that bounced as she played. Over the years, the king watched his daughter grow into a beautiful young lady, and while she still brought him great joy, her golden curls no longer bounced about her shoulders for she spent many quiet hours reading of the kingdoms of others, and sighing deeply.
One day, she went to her father with a request.
“Father, might I walk the labyrinth to quiet my mind and better know myself?”
“My most beloved daughter,” the king replied, “this is a clever request. Soon you will move into a castle of your own, and if you do not truly know yourself, the people, through rumor and slander, will decide who you are.”
The princess furrowed her brow, both at the thought of being slandered and at the equally abhorrent possibility of the people affecting her life whatsoever. She was the king’s daughter, after all.
A princess is strong and clever and independent from the influences of others, she thought. A princess decides her own fate.
“My dear daughter,” the king said, placing his hands on her shoulders. “Take your time in the labyrinth and reflect deeply. And bring me back some steaming hot meatballs.”
The princess smiled sweetly. “Of course, my dear father. Family is the most important thing in this world, so yes, I will bring you those meatballs!”
And so the princess went to walk the labyrinth of IKEA.
The therapeutic powers of walking it’s winding, unicursal path were known far and wide. And the meatballs, well, they were simply delicious.
In the first curve of the path, a small, sprightly man popped out from behind some curtains.
“May I help you?”
He had curly blond hair and mischievous blue eyes. Surely he was an Erik or Bjørn or a….she looked at his name tag.
“Yes! I am here to walk the labyrinth and find myself and select furniture for my new castle.”
Jimmy, wanting to escape his duty of dusting the endless collection of lingonberry jam jars, recognized his opportunity to escort a customer through the store instead and took it.
“Ah, you’re going away to university! Congratulations. We’ll pick you out some furnishings fit for for a queen!”
Oh, I’m certainly not that old! Thought the princess.
The first room they came to was a mix of white, aqua, and canary yellow, with geometric patterns and a monotonous cheeriness.
“We call this style cacarse. Does it speak to you, princess?”
The princess furrowed her brow. “Hmm…caca…?”
“Arse!” Jimmy clarified. “It’s a very popular line.”
“What would it say about me though?”
“It would say that you host the best parties. That you always have vodka in the freezer, but the good kind that doesn’t turn to slush! It says…” Jimmy grasped for the insight she desired, lest he be dismissed back to his lingonberries. “It says you are compassionate and never complain about the vomit in your toilet or sink or silverware drawer…”
“Oh, but I don’t want to be hosting parties, do I? Because I’m not sure I care for yellow and aqua…”
“Not to worry! You are here in this store, we simply need to locate you!”
The next room was dark and moody, with burgundy walls and velvet curtains.
“Kümtown!” Jimmy said waving his arm at the room like a magician. “Truly a place fit for a princess.”
Ah, he has recognized my youth and beauty! Thought the princess.
“And who would I be with such a room?”
Jimmy reached deep into his imagination. “I would say you would be a glamorous artist who always has her muse lounging about. You would have a nightly French 75 and the occasional cigarette. You would frequent New York.”
“And how difficult is it to become an artist?”
“Not difficult at all, princess! You simply need some paint, which we sell here as well.”
“I’m not sure…I hate washing the dishes so I can’t imagine I’d enjoy washing brushes. And besides, I don’t speak French, and cigarettes cause wrinkles!” She patted her soft skin. “So I suppose this can’t be me. Let’s move on.”
The next room was a wash of beige and tan and eggshell with only the most inoffensive amounts of dusty green and blue. Jimmy—worried he might be dismissed before the lengthy process of choosing light fixtures arrived—was determined.
“THIS…” he said with reverence, “is a known princess palette. But at the same time, it is a rarely used princess palette! Everyone admires it, of course, but only the cleverest of the princesses ever see its value.”
And I AM a clever princess! She thought. I know this because my father, the king, says so, and often.
“This palette says that you are…you are kind and strong…and that family is the most important thing to you!”
The princess imagined herself in a room just like this, pleased with her excellent mid-term exam scores and with the number of party invitations she had to choose from. She could call her father from the sofa and tell him she had been offered internships and sorority memberships. She could see herself serving a meal—nearly chef quality!—at the little table. This room was all reward; the work would surely be just as fulfilling and enjoyable and so didn’t need imagining in.
“And what is this room called?” She asked.
“Numptyllocks!” Jimmy exclaimed.
“Ah, Numptyllocks is me indeed!” The princess smiled.
In such a blissful state of finally finding herself—truly!—the princess lingered on each of the lighting fixtures. Jimmy waited patiently, hand and foot one might say.
Already, I am commanding respect! Thought the princess. This is who I am, I have found myself.
I have not had to dust a single lingonberry jam in hours! Thought Jimmy.
At last the princess made it to the center of the labyrinth, but she had taken too long picking out lighting and the cafeteria was closed.
No matter! The princess said to herself. I will buy some frozen meatballs downstairs and lovingly cook them for the king at home.
But, well, at the cash register, the princess was distracted by the selection of chocolate and forgot to buy even the frozen meatballs.
Oh, the meatballs! She thought as she was driving away. Oh well, family is the most important thing, and he will be even more pleased to hear about who I’ve decided to be!