Today is June 5. On this day in 1305, Raymond Bertrand de Got became Pope Clement V. In 1967, the Six-Day War began with an Israeli Air strike. And in 1956, Elvis Presley performed his smash hit “Hound Dog” to a nationwide TV audience on the The Milton Berle Show, an appearance that generated many letters of protest and ranks among the most controversial in early television history.
And in 2011, it’s the date I should have left Sweden.
Key phrase: should have.
But I’m not leaving. Not yet, anyway.
I love Sweden. Not to be melodramatic or anything, but I love it even more than I love Oberto! brand beef jerky. As anyone who knows me well can attest, that’s saying a lot.
The school year here at Linnaeus University may be over, but that doesn’t mean my learning experience has ended: every day I’m learning new things. Like why you should never, ever wear a cowboy hat at a student pub unless you want to be eaten alive by hordes of women (and men) who want to take pictures with you – thus permanently afflicting my eyesight with the flash of cameras. I’ve also learned that, although it may be wrapped in a manner similar to a sausage, a product bearing the word “soppa” on it is, in fact, soup, and thus should not be cut in half like a sausage.
But what I’ve learned above all else is that you live only once. While different people may have different views on the afterlife, most everyone agrees that what you do in this life is important. And in this life, I plan to get as much out of it as possible.
Now I’m no rocket scientist, but I believe the easiest way to do that is to keep broadening my horizons in a place 10,000 kilometers from where I originally came from.
It hasn’t been easy, to be sure. While in studying here in Växjö, I’ve dealt with some of the toughest challenges I’ve ever had, from the mundane (getting lost in the woods, learning to be patient with the queue system, dating Swedish girls) to the downright terrifying (making new friends, adjusting to life in a new culture, learning a new language).
Yet I’ve also had some of the best times of my life. I’ll never forget the wonders of Köttbullar, the majesty of Teleborgs Slott, or the indescribable beauty that is a Swedish sunset. And the people I’ve met – from the corridor mates I see every day to the strangers I’ve only spoken to once and whose names I’ve never learned – will always have a special place in my heart, and my memory.
Maybe I’m just drawing out the inevitable. Maybe I’m only delaying the heart-wrenching loss I’ll feel when I go back to the U.S. for my last year of college. Maybe I’m living in some bizarro muffy world insulated from the wider world, avoiding things like responsibility and getting a real job.
But I don’t think it’s any of those things. I think it truly is love.
Sometimes, when you love someone, you sacrifice everything for them. And for this particular girl, I’ve done – and am continuing to do – just that. And though there’ve been times when all I’ve wanted to do is leave her behind forever, just like Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain,” I just couldn’t quit her.
Her name is Sweden, and there’s no place on earth I’d rather be.
And besides, Boise tends to be kind of hot this time of year.