Post #7 for my recycled posts series – this one is from March 2015. All new pictures added 🙂
Summertime in Sweden meant that the sun wouldn’t set, the weather would warm just enough to warrant swimming and apparel of tube tops and shorts… but rarely did it get too hot. Summertime also meant that there was cause to pack a bag and head out to Svea’s summer cabin on Sandhamn.
One year we headed out there specifically to celebrate the midsummer holiday. Unlike the usual midsummer, Svea’s older brother nor her parents had any plans for the cabin, so Svea and I headed out there by ourselves. We liked it that way anyway. Some of my favorite memories are of playing house with Svea whether it be on Sandhamn, at her Winter house in Borka, or on the weekends in her Stockholm flat when her family would often be at one of the other locations.
The midsummer that we went to Sandhamn, we packed our bags, carefully choosing our alcoholic selection – which that year I recall as being pear ciders for the most part, and headed out to Slussen to catch our bus. The bus ride to or from Slussen was never my favourite leg of this trip. Most often the bus was over full and hot… and took about forty-five minutes to reach the harbour where we would catch our ferry.
Once at the harbour we were sometimes lucky to just catch the ferry without having to wait another thirty minutes for the next one to arrive. The ferry ride was always pleasant. Since we only ever rode it in the spring and summer, the weather was usually perfect. The sun reflecting off of the water, sometimes almost blindingly depending on the time of day.
We would sit and have drinks and chat. Never running out of things to say, that’s the way it goes with best friends I suppose. After a half hour or so, and a few stops at other islands, we would arrive at Sandhamn – getting off at the second pier. The first pier was large and was home to the tourist side of the island – a hotel, a few shops, yachts and music. Svea and I got off on the other side which was quiet and serene. It only took ten minutes or so to walk from her cabin to the tourist side when we needed groceries or an ice cream anyway. So we usually got into the cabin, set our stuff down, turned on the water supply, etc and then started off for the grocery store.
The ten minutes had us walking through lush green woods comprised of tall tall trees. The scenery in my memory I see as an almost mystical green. But the reality was not so remarkable, I suppose.
When we reached the store we usually picked up just enough rations for the weekend so that we wouldn’t have to carry anything home. The only specific things I remember ever getting were tomatoes, cucumbers, and salt. This particular midsummer I recall slicing these tomatoes and cucumbers and arranging them on a plate as Svea and I laughed about something in the kitchen. We grabbed our ciders and packs of cigarettes and headed out to the deck where we laid out in the sun, sprinkling our veggies with salt and drinking our ciders in between puffs of smoke.
The view from the deck was beautiful, we could see the water from there. The foreground was rocky, large flat rocks lead the way down to the beach, and the view was littered with a few trees to block one side of the view from our vantage point. I remember laying out that day and Svea telling me about a book she was reading. This was not an unusual occurrence, we both being heavy readers. This day Svea introduced me to the world of Mikael Niemi as she told me about “Populärmusik från Vittula.” Later this would become one of my favourite books… I now hold both the Swedish version and the English “Popular Music from Vittula” in an honored place on my bookshelf. Svea laughed this day as she described the mountaintop scene to me and I knew I would be reading it soon. Svea had impeccable taste in books as far as I was concerned.
That night, we decided to watch The Shining. For those of you that don’t know, this is a movie based off of a Stephen King novel. Back then both Svea and I enjoyed Stephen King. I do still find him an excellent writer, but my tastes have changed as far as recreational reading goes.
The mistake we made, as we settled in on the couch to watch it with our snacks and cream soda, was waiting til dark to watch it. The TV sat in front of a large window that gave us a view into the semi-darkness, even darker than you would expect from a Swedish summer since we were surrounded by trees. It’s also important to note that we would be required to go outside to get to the building that housed the toilet, and even if I could convince myself to hold it – the structure that held our bedroom area was out that door too.
I had read The Shining a while prior to this night. Generally when I read a Stephen King novel, or watch one of the movies for the first time a second viewing doesn’t bother me any more because I know what’s coming. This night; however, I had apparently forgotten a few plot developments since it had been awhile since having read the book.
Svea and I were curled under a blanket on the couch. We were surviving through the movie even as the creep factor raised as shadows out of the window seemed to move. Without giving too much away to anyone who has never seen it – we got to the part of the movie where the boy is trying to get away from something in one of the hotel rooms. He finally gets out of the room and shuts the door. I took a sigh of relief, loosened my grip on Svea’s leg, and brought down the blanket I had been half hiding my face behind. She turned and gave me a knowing look just as the arm suddenly came out and grabbed the boy and dragged him back in the room.
I screamed out “Jesus Christ!” in shock.
Svea started laughing.
“You could have warned me, you know!”
I made her accompany me to the bathroom before going to bed that night.