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 somedays it descends upon me, a question so heavy and unforgiving that i stop everything and just sit around feeling aimless.

have i made the right choice with writing in english?

i feel like i am abandoning a culture by not living in swedish. i feel like i have lost a grasp of the language – or both. the difference in writing in either of them are great! swedish allows for a different kind of approach, one that is more commonly accepted and recognized as valid, than english which is bound in rigidity and structure. my greatest dream is to merge my swedish flow into english words. or english simplicity into swedish looseness.

but then, but then. swedish vs english.

and it's... a strange struggle. the simple answer is, of course, that yes, i enjoy writing in english, it feels righter for me. but that is after years of writing, communicating, even living primarily in that language. what if i had chosen differently five years ago? what if i had chosen swedish?

and i didn't, i made the decision to go to new york, i made the decision to study at an english high school once back in sweden. i mostly love and date in english, and as much as i love sweden for the practical reasons and values present here, the language is still a thing. i have always felt freer in english, more able to express myself; speaking and writing and reading english is a thing that matters a lot to me — i'd almost say it's an act which balances me.

and then it strikes me that i am indeed very blessed to have met you, because you feel okay with the idea of moving to england or scotland, and i think we should live in berlin too one day. i know things are looking dreary in those countries right now, and the bubble i live in here is safe still, but i don't want that to confine me to living here. sure, if things go to utter hell, one could always move back to sweden i guess. (i keep my renting queues regularly updated. i keep the options open. there's no real rental market in sweden, just these damn queues and impossibilities.)

as long as i can talk english with someone and write in it, i think i'll be okay. 

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“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” — Anaïs Nin

(Art by Michael Carson.)

 I am only really busy on Tuesdays and Thursdays as it stands right now, and those are morning classes where I drag myself out of bed at 6:45 and crawl to school. The weather is still leaning towards summer, and the sweat springs forth at the back of my neck. I rub and rub, feeling too big and too small all at once as I navigate the small spaces to get to where I need to go. Classes run from 8.15 until 11, and then I usually wander around a bit to clear my mind of what I have just gone through. Something about these hours in math class rattle me to my core, and I have to settle my frightened heart.

So that's my schedule. I know other appointments will crop up now and again, and from the middle of October onwards I have Swedish on Wednesday evenings. I hope this does not come off as "look at all this time I have, why won't you entertain me?", it's just factual. I reckon I will have a lot more work to do at home and technically I could do some extra, but I feel like I am trying to strike a good balance and maintain it. We all operate on different levels, and I have to remember that sometimes. What is nerve-destroying to me is too little stimulation to someone else.

There's not much point to this page, but I wanted to write you something. Today was a strange little explosion of tense emotions. In my head I write and write but the sentences are scattered, loose pages torn from a book and floating on the clucking waters, scattered there as I walk the quays and think of you. The sun is less now, it sets earlier, rises later. I tried to imagine living in a place where the summers are not defined by the late sunset and I could not. All I dream of is going further north, or staying at this level. (Places I wish to live one day: Iceland, Scotland, Germany, Finland. The northern lands are me and I am them. My bones are the color of snow, my blood is the feeling of ice.)

When you were here I found a burst of energy I have been nursing since. It used to be far more fickle, but now I seem to go out at least a little each day, or read, or write. Little things happen in the wake of what happened between us, in the hopeful vacuum of longing and yearning for more. I sleep, I wake, I live, I love, I wait. It does not hurt, though that is a thought I will have to elaborate later.


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    What is desire?
     Desire is a restaurant. Desire is watching you eat. Desire is pouring wine for you. Desire is looking at the menu and wondering what it would be like to kiss you. Desire is the surprise of your skin.
    Look - in between us now are the props of ordinary life - glasses, knives, cloths, Time has been here before. History has had you - and me too. My hand has brushed against yours for centuries. The props change, but not this. Not this single naked wanting you.

— Jeanette Winterson, The White Room
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 A kiss on the forehead—erases misery.
I kiss your forehead.

A kiss on the eyes—lifts sleeplessness.
I kiss your eyes.

A kiss on the lips—is a drink of water.
I kiss your lips.

A kiss on the forehead—erases memory.

— by Marina Tsvetaeva
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Let's start by saying that we communicate in a language that I didn't speak for the first ten years of my life. True, there was the trip to Malta where my mother took me on the bus and we sat in the front. The driver asked if I understood him: my mother said no in her broken English, but I started chatting away to him in English. I still remember his face, the wide eyes, the grin, the laughter bubbling up. True, I watched the animated Addams Family on Cartoon Network before it became dubbed to Swedish, writing down long lists of English words that filled pages. Grandmother always kept a stack of white paper in the living room so I could write or draw whenever I wanted to, I just had to go over to the bookshelf and pull a new sheet out.

Still, this is a language I sometimes fumble with, like I fumble with my native one. The words are sometimes inadequate. Sometimes I wish to explain Swedish to you, sit you down and teach you each word that has no meaningful equivalent in English, this language where the words are written together, where the grammar rules can be ignored for good prose without anyone raising a fuss, where the good literature is impossible to translate because it's just that good. This language where every word has a second meaning, like how the word for 'married', 'gift', is the same one for 'poison'. I love it but it's not a language I want to write in because it is not one you can understand. Even if you did, I see myself leaving it within the next five years. Hopefully sooner. (If it is forever is another matter indeed – the national anthem, the only bit I have memorized, is the emphatic line of 'Yes, I want to live and want to die in the Nordic!')

As we grow, I think we will find other languages to communicate our love in but English is the foundation upon which we are building ourselves together. It is a beautiful language, if a little stiff (at least to a Nordic such as myself). Sometimes, we will not find the words. Sometimes, we will sit here frustrated by what we cannot convey, by these feelings beating in our veins, thrumming in our heart, yet refusing to be defined by our fingertips. I write love poems on your skin when you sleep with my fingers, tracing out your contours with cursive lettering. It never feels like it is enough, but it will be.

Our barriers are time and distance, but we find ways to operate in their cracks. Language will not be a barrier. I knew this the instant the tip of my tongue touched yours. I knew it the moment I saw you through the window of the terminal, the glass separating the two sides. I saw you arrive and I felt nothing but happiness. I will feel this again.

It's still hours until you wake. I always think that the mornings of these days are beautiful, because I can prepare something for you to lay your eyes on. I never feel like I lack you, but I do miss you.

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a love letter written across the time and distance


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