I warm my body to the false sentiment of my memories; I nestle myself in the unsteady wave of emotions until I’m completely comfortable. I compartmentalize events, rotate it 360 degrees, and play the memory back again.
My vivid reminiscence of the past, and my favorite personal events, are as potent as any drug. The element of nostalgia plays a crucial role. I cling onto old memories like it’s the only thing that really matters. Only because my memories are colorful distractions in the cadence of life.
All I can tell you is this: Snow. Cobbled paths. Yellow, white, and faded pink buildings. The architecture can’t hide its past. I step into the watercolor postcard of Scandinavia.
The first day, I saw the reflection of the setting sun in the windows of my new room; the dark yellow beams were glistening and welcoming. The air felt thick with excitement and I tried to drift away on the wave of sensible rapture. There was a cacophony of noise around me; the sounds from the trains passing by, fragments of conversations between new roommates, and the rustling noise of freshly fallen snow that’s crushed under snow boots. Everything was still unwritten.
Discovering a new city in your early twenties can be enticing. The boisterous feeling when you think you have shit all figured out; the adrenaline rush that creeps up, beguiling you into the inevitable mind frame that you’ll conquer this new space. While in hindsight, you’re just copying what you think you must feel and experience in the so-called vacuum that’s “student life”. The city and the country were different than what I imagined it to be.
Lund, Sweden. I can’t give you the exact reason why I decided to spent time in Scandinavia. Logic tells me it’s because I was fully focused on my degree and wanted to dive deeper into the world of human rights. I don’t know if that’s the truth. The change of scenery was needed in order to readjust the image I had of myself, and I had an unquenchable desire for an odd adventure. All I know is that it aligned with my habit: When everybody turns left; I turn right.
Fragments of that time flash-forward on my personal projector: The frostiness in the air, the crowded student unions, cheap wine from Systembolaget, ICA plastic bags, and the lingering smell of strong black coffee with a dash of anxiety sweat in the library.
Exchange student. It never truly felt as real life —we were all just living in a translucent bubble that could easily burst at any given moment and reality would waltz in. An Hungarian student told me he was excited to be in my presence; because entering his exchange program, he envisioned that he would come in contact with a variety of black people. I just nodded and tried to drown his microaggressions and seemingly earnest enthusiasm in a freshly made gin and tonic by my Polish roommate – the best gin and tonic I ever had, and will have.
Britta Holmströms Gata. The central streets of the old city center appeared lively and friendly; the further you ventured out, you stumbled upon seemingly forgotten narrow roads. I walked the same route for seven months. The predictability was welcomed. For some the predictability can be too transparent, shameless and hurried. I enjoyed the comfortable rhythm of boring predictability. It allowed me to be fostered in a civil cocoon and slowly discover my new surroundings. It’s the kind of predictability that does not impose too much, makes itself invisible. It was a five minute walk to Juridicum. I passed the train station, bank, post office, the overpriced coffee place. The city felt cozy and familiar.
“I want you to know that I think you’re a personality,” he whispered in my ear after our first meeting. On that same night, we drunkenly walked on the cobbled path in search of a falafel that would easily absorb the poisoning amount of alcohol that was running through our veins. I knew that it was the kind of lies and lust that is mustered at 2:30 a.m., but I just went with it.
Of course, my memory could have failed me, and the city was never the place I made it out to be. Perhaps I just have a lingering attachment to the freedom of students.
The mysterious yearning for inhospitable landscapes, new connections and adventures had been fulfilled. The unquenchable desire to venture out and discover new places slowly diminished. The last day I was happy to leave everything behind. There’s never a hint of longing for this time, because there are no scenes I want to reenact or do differently. All I know is that I sometimes dream of those narrow cobbled paths and I would gladly wander again in the old part of town.
Photo © Moletor