“Var kommer du ifrån?” She asked. He said *just tell her you’re from Liljeholmen“
It’s taken three years. After three years of living in London I already was calling myself a Londoner for two years, but Sweden has been different. Slower. Life in Stockholm is slower than life in London. By miles. It’s smaller, more beautiful, it’s different. I am different because of it (and that’s for another day).
And yet still, to say “I’m from Stockholm” has yet to cross my lips.
I guess the accent will always give it away, Swedish has yet to feel like second nature as French or any other language has so easily come. But it will get there.
Maybe it’s my subconscious fighting against settling in a place I never thought I would end up.
And yet, there’s no place I would rather be.
This summer, as I looked for a new job, I had the world at my finger tips. My language skills, network and varied citizenships make doors open for me. And yet, a nagging feeling, a lack of peace determined my steps, guided my job hunt journey.
Something kept me from leaving. More than leaving, something ensured I stayed, planted, rooted. Even through the frustrations of rejection and boredom…and some pretty crappy summer weather. Filled with days swimming, cool nights at the outdoor cinema, long walks through the city. Stockholm became home.
And I think I have become more Swedish than I ever realised.
I leave for Russia tomorrow and I am pretty certain that on Saturday evening, a week from now, when I step off the plane, back here in Sweden I will be so happy.
I will have missed the fresh air that is really like no other place I have lived or been. I will be happy to come back to my (much more) minimalistic flat, that thanks to the help of some has become better and better lately. I will come back to the coffee, the candles, the blatant disregard for social mores of constant communication that both frustrates me and builds trust.
But more, I will have missed the people.
When I first arrived I was addressed with the ubiquitous question “so, how long are you staying?” which soon grew tiresome and although I still get it sometimes I ignore it. For the answer is and always will be, This is my home, length of stay to be determined. This frustrating question came with the Swedish tendency to not take people in right away. Probably stemming from years of staying in the country, friendship groups known from childhood and the centricity of familial relationships. Outsiders are not easily welcomed in.
But please take this not as criticism, for I don’t mean it that way. Instead, it’s a part of Swedish mys, or comfort. It takes time to build real relationships (Friends, dating…), but those friendships, those relationships, once solidified, last forever.
This is likely the reason we don’t have to call or text as much here. Or perhaps why, in secular Swedish society, sambo, or a common-law relationship is common, why dating works very differently here. Once you know you know.
At least these are the observations of one would-be Swede.
And that is what I will be so happy to come home to in one week’s time.
Those relationships I have built over the last three years, some from the beginning, and some from just the last few months. It’s the people who text me at random times, no matter what country I am in. Those who have taken the time to get to know me for me. It’s all those wonderful people who make home home.
For those people I am so thankful.
I am thankful for the fikas, the evenings sipping wine, the nights filled with tears, the lunches, the gym dates, the movies…or just the simple act of cooking together.
Sure I love Sweden. Yes I love all the little aspects of Swedish culture that sets it apart from no where else….but it’s the people.
To those people, who know who they are, whatever the future hold, thank you for making this place home.