In this day and age where overseas vacations and holidays seems a common enough thing, on my last excursion into Stockholm I could easily pick out the many teens and preteens who surely spent parts of this summer off in some much warmer land, while it still rained back home. It was not so common when I was young, in fact, it was through the financial aid of my grandmother that my family could have our first overseas trip back when I was 13. A trip that did actually go fairly smoothly, though I had dressed inappropriately for the destination.
Since then, I feel I have experienced most of the non-truly-terrifying problems and screw ups that can plague any seasoned traveler, or at least, that was what I thought until recently.
I belong to that generation when the Internet became readily accessible as I entered the second half of my teen years, but it had not been around so long that my parents were wary about the people I talked to online, thus I was able to make a lot of friends online. And many of them are Americans. Having friends from different countries and cultures usually means some clashing, even if it’s another western nation like the US, from the sort of sitcoms we grew up with, to brands of sugary fuel we consumed and the way we were brought up. One of those areas where I just didn’t seem to “get it” was the general attitude I noticed about the seasons and summers.
There are a few things that are known far and wide as traditionally Swedish; Ingmar Bergman, ABBA, the Nobel Prize and of course IKEA. The furniture giant, founded by a man who supplied the people with affordable furniture, as long as you took the time to put it together yourself, is a bit of an institution even in its homeland.
Certainly, what would become of all the university students and youngsters, who need to furnish their first apartments on a tight budget if it were not for IKEA? How could a normal family be able to furnish their home with warm colors and plenty of decorative items to elevate their status in their neighborhood, if not for IKEA? What would the divorcee, who now needs his or her own place to stay again, do, if there was not IKEA to purchase those pieces of furniture which were left behind with their estranged partner?
Yet there is also peril associated with a trip to this fabled place.
Sometimes I feel like the best part of travel is the planning of it. Think about it. When you only just made that booking, when all those months lay ahead, that long period of time before you actually set off, everything is still possible. No worries about delays, issues with the transit, no worrying about having packed everything and you are still months away from facing the reality of what it will really be like once you have reached your destination.
When I strolled out of the jetway into the terminal there was no sign of the snow storm that had stranded me in Columbus the day previous. There had been some snow on the ground when we taxied over to Terminal 1 to be sure, but the sky above us was a brilliant blue with a sleepy winter sun shining down on the world. It felt like one huge trick had been played on me, one which had now successfully delayed my homecoming with one long day.
Mankind is a creature of habit. When you look at any normal human life it is very much the same when you look at the basic aspects of it, no matter where in the world you are. There is a structure to it, a way it has always been since human societies were first formed.
6th and final part.
Today mugginess has descended across the valley and I can no longer see the ocean. As if someone wishes for me to be slowly weaned off the lovely weather we had yesterday and this morning. As if the place is slowly saying goodbye.
Either way it leaves me with time to sit and muse on this week.