Threading new waters, I think of me moving back to Sweden, and in some ways discovering that the country and culture that I grew up in and have visited regularly during the years I’ve lived in the US, is in some ways new territory.
Sometimes it seems as foreign as a culture far away, a strange place where I don’t know the social signals, where people might not speak a foreign language but the definitely act a different “language”.
There are days that I feel more lonely than I’ve ever felt in that place that I’ve made my second homeland.
Like when neighbors pass you in the foyer and don’t look at you, don’t say hello and certainly don’t hold the door open for you.
Or when people bump into you and don’t say “I’m sorry”.
It’s as if I don’t exist. I’m writing I, even though I know this is not me personally, it’s how people treat people here. Some say it’s a Stockholm phenomenon, not a Swedish one.
So far no one has given me there seat on the subway or bus and very rarely has someone struck up a conversation.
Living in New York for so long I got used to knowing your neighbors, speaking to people on the subway, noticing when someone needed help, caring for those around me. All those small opportunities to show care for each other that is a daily occurrence in a place where one difference to this country might be that you need each other more. Here everything is taken care of by some agency, some state run organization, so the person next to you lives in their own bubble of safety and has no need for someone else.
So some days I look at it as learning and adapting to a new culture, some days I make it my business to be different and continue to make contact, no matter what the reaction, and some days I just fall into a distant loneliness.
Today was one of those latter ones.