manny came to pick me up 10am sunday morning in the chrysler town and country minivan he rented from avis the night before. we proceded to drive down to jersey city to his parents' house, to visit the elizabeth, new jersey ikea store and to help his sister maureen move back to mt.holyoke. i had my gps on ("geepy" as i fondly like to call it), satellite tracking our trip. not only was it labor day weekend but it was the final weekend before a lot of students go back to school so we saw many cars with college kids returning to academia. i never thought much of minivans, but the town and country is one sweet ride. very roomy and laden with all the features of a modern car: adjusted cup holders, doors that automatically locked when you start driving, fancy digital drive readouts, heating strips on the base of the front windshield, removeable seats, easy to reach textured buttons, wood paneling, double-sided sliding rear doors, continous radio power even with the engine off - the list goes on and on. my sister let me borrow her fast lane speed pass again (known as the ez pass in the tristate area). manny and i got our kicks flying by all the regular commuters as we went through the special speed pass tollbooth lane. driving with the speed pass is the best feeling in the world, like getting that special vip treatment. it also saved us a lot of time because we didn't have to wait in line to pay the toll.

we took the tappan zee bridge route to new jersey, a familiar sight reminding me of the few times i drove down to new jersey in years past. somewhere in the middle of our trip we stopped at a macdonalds were i got a breakfast meal and an orange juice. the traffic started to get a little bit tighter and there was also some rain the closer we got to jersey. the gps had no problem working under cloudy skies though, informing us how many more miles until we arrived at our destination. finally after 239 miles and 3 hours and 47 minutes after we left belmont, we got to manny's place.

at home were his parents and his two sisters. we got there just when they were able to have lunch, so after eating with the robles, we (minus their father) all went to the ikea store. the exit off of the expressway to the shopping area was heavily congested. we were next to the newark airport and every few minutes a plane would appear in the sky, screaming in for a landing, flying low overhead, like some surreal transportation hallucination where airplanes and cars almost share the same roads.

when we finally got to ikea, it was insanely crowded. crowded as if it was the last day of christmas and everyone is in the mall buying up the store. it took a while to even find parking, we circled round and round, and you almost had to fight for a space. inside the store there was just a wall of people. the thing i noticed about ikea is that it cuts across social-economic barriers. black, white, asian, hispanic, they were all there, along with rich and poor, young and old, straight and gay, ugly and beautiful. sort of like what i see at target stores. say what you will about these big franchise megastores, how they destroy the smaller independent local businesses, how they pollute the unsuspecting general public with their mass produced sameness, but at the very least these places are able to bring americans of every shape and size together in one unified spirit of naked consumerism. capitalism, i love you!



receipt line

self pickup

assisted pickup

loading dock

i went in with no agenda in mind, with the possibility of maybe buying a few more cheap lights and some rugs. my eventual shopping list included:

ris pendant lamp
magasin cultery box
antifoni floor lamp
orslev rag rug
(140x200cm red)
marienta yarn rug
(80x250cm red orange yellow stripes)

i wanted to get a red knoppe footstool but they were out of stock. manny's younger sister maureen and his mom and i waited in the minivan while he was inside trying to return a $15 rusted tea kettle. in the car we talked about relationships and whom amongst our college friends are married now and how they met. an hour later manny came out the store (close to closing time), tea kettle returned for store credit.

we drove back home, picked up manny's older sister maricar, and then went to an ihop restaurant two blocks away for some dinner. my order of chicken fried chicken ran out so i had to settle for half a country style chicken. manny treated us all, his excuse was because we waited so long for him to return his ikea item.

back at the house, manny's father had to come out and move their family car into their single driveway space so that manny could park the minivan in the spot in front of the driveway on the street. city living parking strategy in action! later, manny and i assembled a piece of ikea furniture for his mother before i took a shower. i told him how much i admired the doorknobs in his house and he gave me a tour of some of the interior details in his 100 year old home, like how his father stained the door frames or the old school double push buttons light switch. to went to bed on the living room sofa, where i've slept before that one other time long ago when i stayed over at manny's place here in the jersey.