Monday, September 27, 2010

Kissing in the lost square

I've spent the weekend in Stockholm with my Pan. It was our first little sortie from the baby bubble. We missed Magnus, but it was wonderful, from the moment we ran out of our building to the taxi and my Pan held an umbrella over my hair so I wouldn't look like a soaked kitten, and to the moment we got back.

We stayed at Hotel Rival, where we got engaged almost five years ago. We ordered room service and drank wine from the mini bar and had our fabulous breakfast delivered late, late in the morning.

We strolled around Gamla Stan, curling up on a bench in the prettiest square imaginable, under a goldening chestnut tree. In fact, it was the square that eluded us the first last time we were in Stockholm, five years ago. Pan had been there once before, and planned on proposing to me underneath the chestnut. But no matter where we went, he couldn't find it! I had no idea, so I couldn't understand why he seemed so nervous and why he kept glancing around as if someone were following us, tee hee. This time we just walked in an unlikely direction on a whim, and there it was! We know where you are now, Brända Tomten, so we'll be seeing you again.

Later, we had dinner at a cozy bistro in Söder. I had some excellent chanterelle toast, a very nice pan fried plaice and, of course, crème brulée for dessert. I always get the crème brulée if it's on the menu.

We walked around Söder, hanging out in cafés and reading magazines. And we slept two entire nights in a row in the comfiest bed I've ever found in a hotel room. Hurrah!

Happy anniversary, Pan! It was an amazing weekend.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Lille smil
That's how he looks at his auntie Lin. Ah, kid, how did you get to be this cute?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Choices, choices

Let's see:

Tea and Skittles? Or black coffee and dark Belgian chocolate?

Being a grown-up means I can have as much candy as I like and stay up as late as I fancy. But here's the mindboggling thing: Most of the time, I don't.

Ah, but of course. Tea and Skittles, then dark coffee and Belgian chocolate.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Good night, Tante Else

BenkeI've been thinking about Tante Else. This, you understand, is a little odd, because Tante Else wasn't my tante, or aunt, as you would say. I never met her. I know almost nothing about her.

Tante Else was the great aunt of a boy I was dating in the mid-90's. I'm not sure anymore, but I don't think he even mentioned that he had a great aunt until she died.

On the morning of the funeral, we realised that none of us knew exactly where the church was. Because this was before the age of ubiquitous internet, we spent some time running around in the streets of Sagene, faded black funeral wear flapping in the wind. Five minutes after the service was supposed to have begun, we finally found the right place. It was a drab brick building with no trees to shelter it from the noise of traffic. The second we sat down in the glum rows, panting and sweating, the bells tolled. They had waited for us.

I looked around, and the reason for this rather undeserved kindness became clear: Apart from my boyfriend's dad and stepmother, a minister and a gruff-looking funeral attendant, we were the only ones there.

The minister read briefly from a single sheet of paper. Tante Else was born in Oslo. She never married. She was a very nice lady, sweet and helpful. Then he moved on to bible quotes. No stories, no juicy anecdotes, nothing to reveal what Tante Else had loved, or hoped for, or dreamed of.

During the ceremony, I was the only one who cried. Painfully aware of the odd glances her family gave me, I sobbed for the lost heart of Tante Else, who lived and left so quietly that there were no words left in her wake.

After the service, over sandwiches and coffee, I learned that Tante Else had been in love, once, when she was very young. Her love had left for America, like so many did back then. Tante Else was going to join him. She even had a ticket and a great big suitcase ready.

But then her mother fell ill. There were other siblings, but none that were willing or able to care for the mother. So Tante Else stayed, and she never saw her love again. Or so my boyfriend's stepmother said, between mouthfuls of catered sandwich.

Tante Else, I just know there were a thousand little things to tell about you, and that your family probably knew them all so well it never occured to them to recite them when you died. I am, or would have been, if our paths had ever actually crossed, a stranger. I know nothing about the patterns and comforts of your life, and I can only guess how it felt to willingly lock your heart in a cage that must have chafed it raw.

But I still think about you now and again. 'I wonder', I think whenever I find myself in Sagene, 'Did Tante Else ever walk in this park? Did she like it? Did she feed the pigeons, or did she toss the crumbles at the sparrows, like I always do?' I feel certain that you fed the birds, though. You were, I've heard told, a very nice lady.