Stockholm and Me. The Story.

Over Memorial Day in 2010, I went on a wakeboarding trip with a bunch of friends. It was an idyllic and incredibly fun weekend; we were constantly in the water unless we were dancing, singing or eating on our houseboat.

I hadn't wakeboarded much before, and what I was reminded of on this trip was just how incredibly hard it was to pull myself up out of the water once the boat got going. So, when I would get up, and was skimming along the water at a swift speed, with the hills that encircled the lake flying by me and a cloud framed blue sky hanging over me, and the dance music blasting from the boat over the water towards me, I was thrilled and wanted to maintain what I was doing as long as possible. I never wanted to get off the board, and I certainly didn't want to try anything that would make me fall. So, I played it safe. I stayed between the trails of the two wakes that the boat ahead created. I would go back and forth between the gap, but not over the (pretty small) roll of water that would put me outside them. As the second day progressed, and my friends on the boat could see that I was more comfortable and staying up at any speed, they would call out for me to go over the wake. I'd shake my head, and when I'd be back on the boat for a break I would tell them that I was enjoying myself too much to chance wiping out. I'd rather stay up blissfully than risk falling down, waiting for the boat to circle back and having to go through getting up again.

Later on my second session on that second day, I was up and flying across the water. Sometimes as the boat would need to turn, I would of course curve within the wake behind it. But then on one turn, the curve seemed to get sharper and sharper. I was close to having no choice but to go over the wake on the right-hand side. "What the hell?" I thought, knowing that we didn't need to turn there at all. No one on the boat was signaling anything, and just as I was about have no choice but to maneuver my board over the wake I was able to catch a distant glimpse of Ryan, who was driving the boat. He was smirking. "That freaking guy! He's forcing me to jump the wake," I said aloud to myself. I held on to the rope handle with everything I had and focused on tilting the board just right over the waves. And then there I was, down the side of the roll and skimming swiftly along outside the wake. Those on the boat let out some cheers. I laughed out loud. I'd done it. I was so happy, I felt like I'd made a huge jump forward in my confidence and abilities. They let me cruise for awhile longer and then turned to get me to go back inside the wake, tackling the roll from a different angle. I made it. We kept going. By the end of this session I was so elated. I playfully yelled at Ryan for forcing me once we got back on the boat, but we were all smiling and everyone knew I was happy I'd been pushed out of my wakeboard comfort zone to get to the next level.

This story is to explain the biggest part of why I am staying in Sweden and moving to work in Stockholm. Many think it's quite a strange thing to do, especially if I have lovely and vibrant places to go back to in California. I have a hard time succinctly explaining why I'm choosing to stay.

The biggest reason is not just that I love Sweden. It's not just that I love dearly the friends I have there. It's not just that this is a great job opportunity. It's that I am being the one to pull myself over the wake, knowing that this continued challenge of living abroad, working with international colleagues, and furthering my language and culture learning are going to make the huge jump forward that I want for myself personally.

There are elements about this move that I am a bit anxious about tackling. I've never lived in a big city before...and I know that Stockholm's 1 million isn't as big as some cities but after Santa Barbara and even my growing up in a big suburb of San Francisco it feels huge. I am battling forward with the Swedish language, and it seems so long until the day that a group of friends won't have to switch to English for me to 100% participate and understand. I'm nervous about continuing this feeling of being a foreigner. I'm anxious about the prospect of staying here a long time while also afraid to only stay here a short time, if that makes sense.

But this jump over the wake never feels more right than in moments like these...

...when I got to drive a boat through the Stockholm archipelago during a fiery sunset, when a Swedish couple asked me for directions on the Metro and I knew the way and could answer in Swedish, and when I stood on the outdoor patio of a place in Stockholm that looks over the city from up high and the beauty of its buildings, islands, and water hit me almost like a physical force. I literally had to catch my breath. I think it's one of the most breathtaking cities in the world. Then I know that this confident jump I'm taking over the wake, not just a cautious and forced maneuvering, is exactly the right thing.

You never know when what you're doing or where you're at could become the blissful middle of the wakes. It can feel so good to stay there. But it's going over the roll of the wave, to either side, to the unknown, and then learning to handle that adeptly, like my expert wakeboarding friends, that will allow you to really feel the glory, perform the flips, and generally get the most out of the ride.

I've been wondering about what to do about the fact that this blog is titled Letters from Lund, since I'll now be in Stockholm. I've considered going back to just using my personal blog that I've had since 2007. But there is so much more I want to say about Sweden and culture that I have barely touched upon, and I decided I am more in favor of keeping this blog address, and maybe going with a different, and perhaps more cheesier title.

I've talked about how I like to think of life in relation to the idea of
story. So, I think Stories from Stockholm will be the new name. I may not always publish new posts to facebook, it seems a bit self-centered at times, but we'll see. There's a lot ahead of me; new things to do and see, people to get to know better and those I've yet to meet. Thanks for reading so far.


  1. I'm happy for you that you took a job in Stockholm, it sounds like it's going to be a great season for you.


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