Feelings and Other Weirdnesses

Oh hi.

So I just have to say that I am currently not saying hello from my favorite little Swedish village in Minnesota. I am actually saying hello from my favorite dusty desert town in Idaho, and life is weird.

Where does this story begin?

I think it begins in my dad’s little white Ford, more than a month ago at four in the morning on a Monday, looking through the sunroof at the Big Dipper over my head as we left town.

Two planes and a bus later, I was sitting in the basement of a dorm at Bemidji State University with a lot of people I didn’t know very well.

And now I’m ridiculously sad because I am not around those people anymore. What happened? Language happened, I know that. Friendship happened. Some very unprecedented things happened. I don’t know what all happened. But everything is very different, and I am not sure how I feel about anything.

As far as language:

When I was a sophomore in high school, I went through some rough months when I was literally terrified to talk to people out loud. I rehearsed the smallest interactions over and over again in my head, even when I knew exactly how they’d turn out. I asked questions I knew the answers to on purpose to ground myself in having something to say. It was not a good time. And at the beginning of my Swedish adventure, I felt myself doing the same thing, a little bit: rehearsing what I was going to say before I said it. Which, in Swedish, is excusable because mine was not strong and not really “on top,” as it were. But I still felt scummy about it because it was inhibiting said interactions. Perhaps I have an incurable desire to have authentic interactions all the time. I don’t know.

And then everything got so much better. I don’t even know when it happened. I remember being frustrated that the tireder I got, the more likely I was to spout some svengelska when a camper spoke to me in English (like they ALWAYS did). But it got so much better. I think I wrote about this last time: when one of my fellow counselors asked me to do something for the second time and I snapped at her, it was in Swedish and it just kind of came flying out and I was more amazed, I think, than she was. And now I have to think a little bit about my interactions in English and make sure to say “Thank you” instead of “Tack” and so on. Though that doesn’t stop me from saying “Just det” all the time.

As far as friendship happening… a lot of things happened. Basically when I got there, the only friend I had was Ronja. And now, despite being friends with everyone, I have a good handful. For instance, at orientation I was placed to live with Helena, with whom I was a camper, but never really friends, though we connected a little bit over a writing website. And now we are real, legitimate friends and it feels awesome. And there are others.

And as far as unprecedented things go…I don’t know. Everything is interesting. But to put it like a t-shirt might, somebody in St. Peter, Minnesota, likes kissing me. And I like kissing him. And that’s about all I can actually say, except that it was ridiculously nice and I don’t know what’s happening next.

And I want to talk quickly about a dumb old sitcom called “Welcome Back, Kotter” that I don’t even really like but the theme music thereof is fantastic, so here are the lyrics, which are a bit helpful, especially when I think about my return to this camp as a counselor and not a camper anymore, and how that felt, and how lovely and strange and difficult and wonderful it was.

Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out
Welcome back to that same old place that you laughed about
Well, the names have all changed since you hung around
But those dreams have remained and they’ve turned around

Who’d have thought they’d lead ya (who’d have thought they’d lead ya)
Back here where we need ya (back here where we need ya)
Yeah, we tease him a lot ’cause we’ve got him on the spot
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back

Welcome back, we always could spot a friend
Welcome back, and I smile when I think how you must have been
And I know what a scene you were learning in
Was there something that made you come back again

And what could ever lead ya (what could ever lead ya)…
Yeah, we tease him a lot (welcome back, welcome back)
‘Cause we’ve got him on the spot (welcome back, welcome back)
Yeah, we tease him a lot ’cause we’ve got him on the spot
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
Welcome back

And with that all said, where does this story end?

I don’t know. I hope it doesn’t end.

But I can guess (well, hope) where it is going next, and that is back, again, next summer. As we always say.


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