“So how was summer?” Naia looked up from her book as Erin dropped in the seat next to her. She frowned, being absolutely sure that Erin had heard everything about her summer. Everyone seemed to have and it annoyed Naia to no end that everyone looked at her funny. This was university for heaven’s sake, not high school where everyone gossiped! But reality seemed different, as she’s been hearing other rumours as well.
Before Naia could answer she saw Marisol walking into class, sitting down in the front row as she always did. They used to be friends during high school but live decided otherwise and they grew apart, bringing them suddenly together when they walked into the same class even though Marisol did a completely different master. Naia heard Marisol spent most of her summer in the hospital, after she collapsed during field work. She seemed to have woken up from her heat induced coma on the same day Naia woke up from hers. The doctors had decided that she must have had too much nitrogen still in her body after she went down for her night dive. Even though none of the tests showed any signs of nitrogen in her system. But Naia had realised quickly that doctors don’t like it when you point out extremely obvious things that they cannot explain.
“So?” Erin poked her so hard that a bruise would certainly form quickly. Naia sighed. “Well, what I remember was great fun, I saw this amazing octopus from up close.” Of course this would grab her nerdy friend’s attention more than her mysterious coma that lasted for three straight weeks.
“Wauw! You got pictures?”
Of course she got pictures, but that was where things had become really strange. The pictures were all really dark, Naia was only able to see those beautiful rings on the octopus’ skin after she altered every bit of lighting in the picture. Did she not remember correctly how bright the moon shone that night? She was sure she didn’t, but the subconscious gnawing started as soon as she showed the pictures on her phone to her friend. Maybe she did remember incorrectly, just as she remembered a female voice speaking to her in Greek as soon as the light of the moon enveloped her. Right before she remembered nothing until she woke up again weeks later.
As the cold gets a hold on the city, and my fingers in particular, there is the realisation that whatever I write now will be incomprehensible. I might as well write in hieroglyphs.
Still, the Swedish cold doesn’t bother me. It gets my heart pumping, my blood boiling in a way that the more nothern countries seem to do to me. As I draw another big breath of that cold air it isn’t hard to imagine what I’ll do on my last day in Sweden. I’ll stroll around the city of Stockholm, enjoying the mix between nature and manmade structures while listening to the sounds that surround the city. At some point I’ll hop into this little bar that I’ve had my eye on for a while now. It’s located in the most tourist-y area of town and yet it has something that draws me to it. It is small, no nonsense and it sports classic Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingon berries on the menu. I’ll never, ever eat the tiny meatballs from IKEA in any other way ever again.
I might even just chill there for a little bit, if I can find a nice spot to sit. Just write, get some anti-freeze in my system in the form of tea or hot chocolate. The dangerous thing is that I can’t forget the time. At some point I’ll have to return, grab my backpack and head to the airport. Which I do not want to do, I want to grab that pack, a nice warm hat, and head north. Uppsala for a start and from there on further into the country of meat-and-potato-heavy food and cinnamon roles.
Before I return I’ll make sure to grab some fika for the road. Next to the classic meatball dish it’s the best Swedish invention I’ve ever heard of. I’ve had some fika from different stores now, it’s always best to eat it immediately and it’s no punishment to do so. Pure dough-y and cinnamon-y goodness. However, it’s impossible to say which ones I like best. Every genuine bakery makes their own bullar, all according to their own recipe. The only common part is that it has to have cinnamon or cardemom. So far I’ve loved them all. The warm and sweet cinnamon, the spicy and tingling cardemom hidden in dough and butter.
Looking at the sky and food, something I’ve done a lot during my time in Stockholm, I realise the Swedes try to combine land and sky in their capitol. Bind earth and air together on the water of the archipelago and around the fires in the houses. By using yellow, orange and red tones in the paint on the houses the city binds the sun to the streets even when there is very little sunlight during wintertime. And through the warm and heavy tastes of potatoes, butter, spices and meats the connection to the rocks and earth hidden under the cobblestones of Galma Stan remains. Stockholm, a city surrounded by water and heated by fire, is therefore really a city of earth and air. A city with a strongly beating pulse.
– Stockholm, Sweden
“Aah kom op! Nog één drankje.” Dylan was waarschijnlijk de enige in de bar die niet hoorde hoe dubbel haar tong inmiddels was. De barvrouw schudde meewarig haar hoofd. “Een glas water, dat wil ik je nog wel serveren.”
Shit, wat was ze schattig met die bezorgde toon, dacht Dylan. Die donkerbruine ogen deden haar haast smelten.
“Maar ik ben nog lang niet dronken,” klaagde de jonge vrouw, een vaste en ervaren kroegtijger, lallend. Alsof ze haar ogen niet maar nauwelijks kon openhouden. Het notitieboekje dat ze mee had genomen naar de bar lag vergeten naast haar, half in een plas bier. De letters die in aanraking waren gekomen met het vocht waren net zo hopeloos uitgelopen en vergaan als alle goede intenties die Dylan die avond had gehad. Ze zou gaan schrijven, eindelijk weer een eigen project starten, iets waar ze energie van kreeg en gelukkig van werd naast het werk dat ze zo verafschuwde maar wat haar voorzag van een inkomen dat haar huur betaalde. In plaats van dat alles was ze een bar binnengelopen en had ze zichzelf volgegoten met goedkoop bier. Er was geen letter op papier verschenen.