Getting Away From it All - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Getting Away From it All

Getting Away From it All

Published December 7, 2007

Just two months ago, my loved one and I were sitting by a beautiful little rivulet, talking about big universal matters, surrounded by small Swedish birds and trees. We had talked about moving way up north, to the wilderness, and now we were changing our plans. Just minutes before that, I sat alone there, reminiscing with a disturbing feeling that ran across my every nerve.
Reykjavík, hmm, Reykjavík… Iceland?
Or maybe Oslo…Norway?
It was really all the same to us.
And then, only a month later, when everything has become normal again, in another country with other habits, I wonder why I came. Did I even move?

Why did I come here? What made me want to give up a beautiful house, jobs, plus a very much longed for Jonathan Richman show? What on earth could possess me to move further away from my wonderful little siblings? Did I need to “get away from it all?” Clearly not, I love and adore the landscapes of Österlen in the south east of Sweden. Oh, and then there’s that commonly asked sub question: Did I need to find myself?

Truth is, I pretty much know where I am, and therefore I know that it was restlessness that drew me here. But still that phrase doesn’t leave my mind: “Get away from it all, find yourself”, what does it mean?

Let’s face it, I’m the product of my youth, my surroundings and my environment; that’s a huge part of who I am. So when I told my mom and dad that I was going away, I really believed it. But here I am, again.

It all started when Magdalena, my loved one, got a job at a café. I went in there one morning to have a cup of tea. One of the first things I noticed was a Swedish daily paper, which of course I opened. A well-known face was staring back at me, and if he could have moved and weren’t made of ink, I’m sure he’d have had an evil grin. It was a huge photo of a musician, from one of the three bands ever to come out of my little home village, Åhus.

The very same night we were at a gathering. When the wine hit the Icelanders, they all started to sing this old Swedish tune, “Vem kan segla förutan vind” – in Swedish! I had to see it to believe it, and even then I was doubtful. Later that night I found myself in a bar, trying to focus on a bottle of Absolut Raspberry. At the bottom, written in fine print, I found what I was looking for: “Bottled and produced in Åhus, Sweden.”

I sank into romantic memories of my bike rides around that old vodka factory, and for a while I desperately held on to these memories, until I lost them in a toilet downstairs, which of course was made by IFÖ, in Skåne, Sweden. All these memories, how did they survive abroad? Are the Icelanders guilty of feeding them? I don’t know, but it sure is hard to get away from anything these days.

The story doesn’t end here, though I almost wish it did. My other roomie got a job at a clothing store. And now, please keep two things in mind: One, that both jobs were coincidentally arranged, and two, that the little village of Åhus has no more than 10,000 citizens.

Anyway, to pass time, she borrowed an Ipod from a colleague whom she doesn’t even know. And since I’ve got a computer, the responsibility fell on me to fill it up with some music. And the first thing that damn shuffle function hits me with is Acid House Kings – another band from Åhus.

As this started to confuse me in my days here, the Reykjavik Film Festival opened. The first spot in the schedule was the screening of “Shotgun Stories”, an American film from the beautiful south. But for some reason, the language they spoke before me was Swedish, and the scenes were from Stockholm. It wasn’t a film from the beautiful American south, it was the Swedish director Roy Andersons latest flick, “You, the living”! After twenty minutes, a guy with a RIFF-shirt came in and said some things in Icelandic, I guess it was about the mishaps. But it might as well have been a malicious joke about the foolish Swedish person sitting in the cinema. The one who can’t escape himself.

So let’s bury all this ‘get away from it all’ nonsense, once and for all.

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