We’ve had a busier social life as a couple in Linköping than we do in the US. We’ve done the dinner circuit with Peter & Cissi (pronounced Cee-cee) and their 2-year-old daughter Elsa; Per & Åsa and their daughters Maya (9) and Tyra (7); and traded visits with neighbors. In addition, we went together to a local band concert in March; to watch the motorcycle parade leaving Linköping on April 30; to Gamla Linköping on May 1 for an outdoor concert of the same band and (for me when I tired of standing around watching the band and watching other people watching the band) wandering through a print museum and discovering more shops, and taking Harry back to the print museum before we left that day; to the Air Show June 3; and to the neighborhood Midsommars Eve Festival June 22. All of that in addition to hosting Julie (and my going with her on the Coexistence of Cultures and Faiths cruise) in April; my bookgroup friend Megan and her daughter at the beginning of April; and Harry’s family the 2nd week in May. For a real social butterfly that might be a busy month; but we’re not even fake social butterflies!
On the 24th, we hosted an afternoon for our neighbors to thank them for all the ways they have helped and welcomed us, and to welcome the Linnérs home from England. We had 16 guests—8 children, 8 adults. Wizard demonstrated his wisdom by holing up in our bedroom. The out-of-doors at Gröndalsgatan 6 was entirely too noisy and rambunctious for his liking! We even had guests we hadn’t met before: Caroline and Raphael (What are the odds that two Raphael’s will live across the street from each other in Sweden?) and their children dropped by for 15 or 20 minutes; I still don’t know if they came to our party to introduce themselves or to talk to other neighbors, but it was nice to meet them anyway. I was busy all morning making rhubarb crisp, molasses cookies, and rhubarb sauce to serve with ice cream. I’m pleased to report that most of it was gone by the time the guests departed. That’s the perfect kind of treat! (Harry was starting to make jokes about all the ways rhubarb showed up on the menu. To keep up my reputation, the next night I served Brown Sugar Rhubarb Chicken.)
That turned out not to be the last social event, however. I was especially sorry to leave without enjoying Cissi’s company again. I had thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her, and had looked forward to seeing her again at our Swedish National Day lunch on June 6, but Elsa was sick that day and she stayed home with her. Partly to rectify that, and partly to finish up a bit more of the fish in our freezer (from the fish man’s truck 11 weeks ago), we proffered a last-minute invitation to them to join us for a fish dinner on our last night in Linköping; they accepted! It was hard to say goodbye, but they offered us a bed in their basement for a return trip, and so we parted with more of a “till next time.”
And then there are the friends I met through their line of work, esp. at the salon where I got my haircuts, manicures, and massages. I predicted optimistically at my first contact with them, back in February, that at my last contact I would be speaking Swedish. At nearly every visit, conducted almot exclusively in English, they would ask me how my Swedish was progressing. They listened to me practice, answered my questions, and generally provided encouragement in addition to being friends in the way “salon ladies” often are. It seemed like I would never speak Swedish. And then… I spoke Swedish for about 75% of my last manicure and for the majority of my last haircut! My hair stylist had threatened that if I didn’t speak Swedish at that appointment she wouldn’t let me go back to the United States. She gave me a VG (like a B) for the encounter. I was disappointed not to have merited an A, but I had to agree: about halfway through I lapsed into English and didn’t say much in Swedish after that. We parted with a promise to be pen pals—the whole salon and I. Not via e-mail…real letters! Ah, pen pals…takes me back to grade school days…
We’ll have several people to add to our Christmas Letter list. Maybe that will help ensure a “next time.”
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