**Back on topic for my BFF Memory posts 🙂 **
In 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea went to war. Many of the diplomat kids and families were shuttled out of the country within the year – with only essential personnel remaining behind. This meant that my dad stayed behind as me, my sisters, and my mum went back to the US at the end of 1998 to wait it out before we were due to move to Sweden in mid-1999.
Not all foreign nationals left – some missionaries and other corporate related families I knew stayed behind. Before I left I caught up with Svea and exchanged contact info – she was staying behind, but we had already discovered that we were both due to move to Stockholm at the same time. She gave me the address and phone number for the flat her family owned in Stockholm, another relevant family phone number… and a note in Swedish saying something about seeing me soon in Stockholm, endearingly calling me Tjockis amongst other things. I asked her what some of these words meant. I had started studying Swedish with a tutor, but had not come across some of this lingo yet. She told me I’d figure it out eventually. (Which I did – later finding the note while cleaning out my room one day after I had acclimated to Swedish better. The hefer called me “Chubby” when she wrote “Tjockis.” Probably a good thing I can’t really remember what else she had written!) I do recall her also writing a couple notes with phrases she said I needed to learn before I got to Sweden. The one that I always remembered was this: Använder kondom är som att äta godis med papper på.
…I’ll just let you google translate that (link provided should take you straight to the translation.)
What good advice from one 15 year old to another!! Ha ha. But no seriously… youth readers… I do not condone that!!
Svea and I both arrived in Sweden within weeks of each other; luckily I got the chance to meet up with her before school started. I recall her showing me around Stockholm, we walked down around Sveavägen – a major road running through Stockholm proper. It was a beautiful sunny day – I don’t remember everything we did, but I remember walking along and two young men came running along behind us and one batted at my ponytail as he ran passed, turning and smiling running backwards for a few steps, looking at us as they overtook our pace. One of them shouted out some greeting that I no longer recall. “Wow,” I thought, “Swedish guys are cute.”
We ran into two Swedish sisters that we both knew from Ethiopia – just randomly saw them on the street. We chatted with them a bit – they were just in town for a holiday. (Turned out later their family would move back to Stockholm, and their younger brother ended up at our school the year that Svea and I were seniors.)
Then we went to McDonalds for lunch. Svea showed me how she mixes whole salt and pepper packets into her ketchup to dip her french fries in.
“That is so weird.” I scrunched up my face in disgust.
“No. It’s good. Seriously try it! You’re in Sweden now, you have to eat like this.”
“But doesn’t ketchup already have salt in?”
“Just try it,” she said almost exasperated.
So I did. It was actually pretty good (and I found that I ate it that way without even thinking about it after a while.) …Unlike a year or two later when she insisted I try blodpudding with lingonberry sauce.
So help me when Svea tried the “It’s Swedish; you have to!” on me.