23 November 2008


This is a storytelling post.

I was listening to a Celtic music program and was reminded of the first time I went to Stockholm for some reason.

Shortly after arriving in Sweden, I met a boy that I thought was the entire world.  Black hair, fair skin, dark blue eyes.  Mesmerizing.  He asked for my phone number, and I happily obliged.  He'd spent a year in northern Pennsylvania as an exchange student, so he understood well the disorientation and adjustment that takes place for all exchange students.  Besides his mesmerizing eyes, he had an amazing voice that I still remember.  A great voice for whispering sweet things in your ear.  

Our first date was at a restaurant on a lake, and after dinner, we went outside to look from the terrace at the moonlight on the lake.  He couldn't have planned a better place for our first kiss.  I was hooked.  Naturally.  Years later, I found out he was a player-with-a-capital P, but at 16, I was.....um.....kinda naive.  (Just a little.)  He probably did plan it that way.  The story of how I found out that he was a player...is for another day when I feel like playing 6 degrees of separation because I found out about his history when I was back home in the US.

He lived in another province, outside of a city called Västerås, about 45 minutes away from my little home town.  We talked on the phone frequently, and in November he offered to be the one to show me Stockholm.  Said he wanted to see my reaction to his favorite city.  I had been itching to get to the capital, mostly because I love cities, and this was a new one to explore.  But the important this was that he had a car, an unusual thing for a Swedish high school kid.

We parked outside of Gammla Stan (Old Town), and walked over a foot bridge that is probably 600 years old.  The moment I set foot on Gammla Stan's cobblestoned streets, I had this feeling that I'd come home.  Comfortable.  Like I belonged there.  This isn't a sensation that I can easily describe; there are a few places on this earth where I've felt like that; where we vacationed in Michigan when I was a kid; Lilydale; and Stockholm.  

I felt like I'd been there before.  This sensation of coming home was not a thing that raised the hair on the back of my neck, not a spooky or frightening feeling, not at all.  I wanted to stay forever.  I felt like shackles had been taken off of me, shackles that I hadn't even known were there, and suddenly I was free and 100 pounds lighter.  Nevermind that if I lost 100 lbs when I was 16, I'd have been dead, 'cause I would have weighed about 6 pounds.  And free from what, the gentle goddess only knows.  Not like I was escaping tyranny when I left the United States, nor was there any tyranny in my host family's home, either.

Maybe it was just wishful thinking, that I belonged there.  But I've felt that way each time I've returned, so either the delusion continues, or it is a genuine feeling of deja vu. I don't know.  I quit trying to figure it out years ago.

Is there anyplace that makes you feel that way?

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