So, I have been pretty much on a cloud of positivity since being back in Sweden, but today, have come crashing down to earth. And the reason for this? A cyclist and the father in law , although not, thankfully, at the same time.
So, I take the kids and the dog out for a leisurely stroll before tea. Away with the fairies and concentrating (vaguely) on my dog and how much he pulls on the lead, I suddenly became aware of a voice right behind me. A cyclist. One that was very close to me. Only after she’d got past did I realise that she’d said “you are right in the middle of path”. Now, two kinds of humiliation hit me simultaneously – the first, that I could not find the words to apologise. I just went blank. Secondly, that I had nearly been hit by a cyclist.
I thought after, had I been in England, what would I have done. Well, it would never have happened. Who rides bikes in the UK? Other than environmentally-friendly folk, children or people who can’t afford a car? But, had this miraculously happened in the UK, I would have done one of two things:
1. Apologised profusely, thus appeasing my feelings of being a fool, allowing me to titter at myself at a later stage
2. Raise my fist and shout loudly that she didn’t need to be so rude (because at the end of the day, she didn’t – these things happen)
But, I am not in the UK, I am here, in cycle-manic Sweden. I don’t know the laws of cycling your bike along a path (and it was just a path, not a designated cycle path). Admittedly, I wasn’t concentrating, but tell me how many Brits expect a cycle to come zooming up behind then? And, she was rude. Unnecessarily so, in my humble opinion.
Walking along just after, I said to my boys that I hadn’t realised she was there. My eldest replied that she had tinkled her bell. Tinkled her bell? Isn’t that a euphemism for something else entirely? Anyway, what good is a teensy, tinkling bell when you have two rambunctious, loud kids, one peddling bike, a panting dog, and flipping flip-flops?
So, where was I? Yes, humiliation. Can you believe that tears actually stung my eyes and my bottom lip almost quivered? For the rest of the hour long walk, I contemplated why the incident would have such an effect on me. It was a misunderstanding and something that could happen to anyone. In Sweden, in England, in the Himalayas, even (if they have bikes, which seems unlikely). The little voice inside me, that I have been up until now successfully silencing, has erupted with a shout loud enough to shatter my eardrums: you just don’t fit in. You do not FIT in. As I write, I remember all of the feelings of foolishness and idiocy from the last time I was here. That feeling of just not quite getting it. Of being achingly familiar, yet so inexplicably different. I don’t want to feel like this. I really did think that I had exorcised that particular ghost, yet, it is back to haunt me.
However, this was not the only thing that brought me down to earth today. The father in law came for a quick visit and not only was my Swedish flowing like beer at a rugby convention, but I understood most of what he said to me (which, for anyone who has experienced the Skånsk accent, will understand my pleasure and surprise). Feeling full of the joys of spring, I told him that I felt we’d made the absolute best decision by returning to Sweden. His response? Well, take each day as it comes, you have only just got here. Not what I was expecting, at all. Kind of knocked the wind from my sails. Or, to be more precise, upturned the boat and drowned me. I think it made me feel silly for saying it. I guess I thought he would be pleased, feel reassured. I guessed wrong.
Anyway, I am few hours on from first starting this. Do I feel silly? Heck, no! I feel absolutely beyond ludicrous. But, whether I feel silly or not, whether I appreciate that this is an over-reaction, this is what I am up against and will be until I either become totally integrated into every aspect of Swedish life, or accept my differences and limitations. Or, just get a bloody life!