Rullar Fram

"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before." 

I flew out of Newark as usual. 5:20pm flight. I sat next to a lady that smelled of stale cigarette smoke, who complained most of the way about potentially missing her connection to Greece. I ate dinner, watched a few movies, sat in the silent vacuum of a sleeping plane and planned out my life, ate breakfast, and landed in Arlanda at 8am. Olle, the chairman of our club, drove my roommate and me three hours to Borlange. We chatted. I got caught up on the litany of things I’d missed in the last year and a half.

Olle dropped us off at our apartment and I passed out on top of my bedspread and woke up with sweat between my shoulder blades and all around my sleep mask because it is hot in Sweden. Hotter than I’ve ever been in Sweden.  

After our nap, Olle came back to drop off our bikes. He pulled them down from the back of his car and handed me, mine. I’m not sure if he knew it was mine. But it was. The black bike had always been my bike. Just like my roommate Sarah’s had been Orange and my roommate Meghan’s had been stolen.  

My bike had been through some stuff, it seemed. The ringer had been ripped from the bell, the lock was a bit wobbly, and it had a new kickstand. But it was definitely my bike.

We used to ride those bikes all over town like an elementary school gang. So when we hopped on our bikes the next morning (after getting through our first training and becoming one with our beds for the night) and took off into town, it took me back immediately. 

As we biked up onto and off of sidewalks, around traffic circles, taking all the same shortcuts, it was the first time I realized that there are ghosts in Borlange. Not scary ghosts or mean ghosts or even sad ghosts. More apparitions. People existing in another time but in the same place, like a double exposure on a photograph. 

As we made our way downtown, I saw my roommates and I being pulled over at 4am on our way to the airport. The police officer without introduction or small talk, sticking a small plastic tube in my roommate Sarah’s face and saying “blow.” I saw us as we drove away bent forward in a fit of laughter. 

As we continued past the bus stop, I saw myself pounding my bike pedals, flying in the opposite direction in the pitch black, hoodie pulled tight around my face so just my watering eyes and nose were visible, sleeves pulled down to my fingers tips, touching the handle bars with as little skin as possible.   

We pulled in through town and I saw myself in the Thai Restaurant blowing the candles out on my 27th birthday cake. And then I saw us seated on the edge of the fountain for a picture, smiling, even though things weren’t really ok. We biked past Pitchers and I saw us sending shots to the Swedish girls as Sweden beat the US in the Olympics. Past O’Leary’s, where they were turning away the 16 year olds on our team the night we won the league. 

As we biked back, I saw my teammate Robyn tanning on her porch and my mom stuck at the tippy top of a very high-tec seesaw. We passed the outdoor cage full of bunnies and ducks splashing around in a bathtub and I saw a group of us standing there on a particularly tough day, knowing that when the fluffiest bunny with the big ears finally peaked his head out of this little house, we wouldn’t be able to help but smile. 

Today we walked through IKEA and I saw myself agonizing over the rug, and comforter, and fairy lights that I decorated my room with. I saw Meghan buying bright teal cabinets, insisting that we needed some color. I wonder where all that stuff is now.  

In the locker room I saw our former coach Jonas pulling his shirt down like a small child as he looked at the ceiling searching for the right word in English. I went to take scissors from the med kit and saw my teammate Bea picking it up to take it down to the field. 

I’ve never had this sensation before. The images are so real. And they come to me in the oddest moments. They aren’t unwelcome. But they seem completely diverged from what is happening now. Like they are from a different era and should be playing in black and white even though some were just a year and a half ago. 

Things are different. And it’s good. I do feel like I can appreciate this team for what it is, completely independent from what I was a part of before. We have new coaches, new players, and from the first practice I could tell that we play a different style. The foundation of the team is not the same. There is a small part of me that mourns for what we built, knowing it isn’t here anymore, but a large part of me is happy to start fresh on something that feels so new and different and exciting. Because even if so much is the same, the story is new and it rolls forward as if it had never happened before. 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Borlange

One eternity ago, or just yesterday (depending on how sentimental I’m feeling), I stepped off a plane in Stockholm and got in a grey Opel van driven by a charismatic grey haired man named Olle. There was snow everywhere and falling from the sky. The highway barely looked plowed, but we flew down it so fast that I found myself gripping the door handle. One windshield wiper just stopped wiping halfway into the trip and Olle pulled over into the snow bank to fix it, while cars and trucks whizzed past. I remember thinking how unfortunate it would be to have flown all that way just to be killed on the side of the road. 

New Years 2018

New Years 2018

New Years always seems to tug on my heartstrings whether I like it or not. Despite knowing it is just another day, I want to believe in the power or fresh starts and that this year, I can be anything I want it to be. Starting…….NOW.

I feel the same way about New Years as I feel when I’m being asked to join a pyramid scheme. I start off thinking the whole thing is a total scam, but after about three hours of peer pressure I begin to think that maybe it’s not entirely impossible that all my problems could be related to a severe riboflavin deficiency and isn’t it lucky that this mud scraped directly off the feet of jungle dwellers has 15x my average daily intake of it?!

Both things clearly play on my wish that life were simpler than I know it to be. But I also think that both things reveal something deeper about the human condition; that optimism is damn near impossible to eradicate.

Step 1 - The Foundation: A New Life in Iceland

Step 1 - The Foundation: A New Life in Iceland

When I arrived in Sweden (two years ago almost to the day) we were a middle-of-the-table 2nd division team. We were in a small town 3 hours from Stockholm. We had a couple hundred Instagram and Twitter followers, and our stadium consisted of two sets of wooden bleachers on the side of a small turf field that opposing teams dreaded playing on. 

During one game in May my first year, it was hailing (yes it hails in May in Sweden) and the bleachers held two fans, parents, probably, though it was hard to tell as they were bundled up to their eyeballs and holding their umbrellas low. It turned out to be one of the biggest games of our season. When we scored to go ahead 2-1 (taking first place in the league for the first time) I got chills everywhere unrelated to the freezing rain. It was an extraordinary moment in an otherwise ordinary(ish) setting.

Weekday Update

New Years Resolution: blog more.

Doing New Years Resolution now.

Firstly, I've been in Sweden for two years. I wrote a whole book about it that I'm not ready to publish yet. Here are some things I’ve been reluctant to write about: 

  • My first year (2015) we (Kvarnsvedens IK) won our league and because Europe does promotion/relegation this meant that we moved up to the highest division for the first time in our club's history. 

I Love: Lloyd

A few years ago I read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers. In it, he talks about how most of the elite hockey players in Canada are born in the first half of the year, a huge amount in the first three months. When kids are little and join sports teams that are chosen based on birth year, the ones born earlier in the year are bigger and faster and more mature (some by almost 12 months). Over time, the younger ones don't make the good teams, and end up training at a lower level with inferior coaches, thereby exacerbating the gap between them and the older kids. Eventually they are weeded out of the game. I saw this phenomenon first hand, though I didn't realize it at the time. I was born in early November and was almost always the youngest person on my regional ODP team. I distinctly remember one year that there was only one girl younger than me, born at the end of December. This did nothing to help my "cool" quotient, not to mention the height differential between me and the other goalkeepers.

What I did have, however, was parents who continued to pay for me to play until I caught up. Even more importantly, they (and many others) believed that I could and would catch up if I tried hard enough.

Simply put, they kept me in the game.

What I've come to appreciate more than ever recently is that we all have people who keep us in the game.

I Hate: Rejection

When I was in second grade, I was in a clique. (Part of my on going quest to be considered cool).

We called ourselves the Pink Coat Detective Agency – although we didn’t do much detective work that I can remember.

The problem with being in a gang…I mean clique…is that you aren’t supposed to fraternize too much with non-members – in case you let slip a secret and have to go sleep with the fishes during naptime. I like to live dangerously though, and if I had one weakness at that age it was kindness (not anymore…gang life hardens you).

I Hate: Fear

Sept. 11, 2014

I was eleven years old on 9/11 – sixth grade.

I was in gym class when they told us to go to the auditorium for an all school assembly - no time to change. I would spent the rest of the day in my gym clothes. White school polo, navy mesh pants, and a purple velvet hair tie holding my hair in a too-high, too-tight ponytail.

I heard it first from a classmate on the walk back to school. He said one of the world trade towers fell down.

I thought it was an accident. What else would an 11 year old think?

I Hate: Losing

Aug. 28, 2014

I hate losing.

I’ve done my share.

It sucks.

Two teams I played with and loved to death this year lost in the final and semi final of their leagues. Overall, not bad at all.

But I still hate losing.

Mostly because I love winning, it matters to me, and I enjoy keeping score. Matters very little what game I’m playing, actually, or who I’m playing against.

I Hate: Travel

July 24, 2014

I don’t travel well. Anyone can attest to it (especially my former Portland teammates).

My issues with travel are thus:

You have to wake up early. I’m not sure why this a rule, but it seems that “hitting the road early,” or taking the first flight out, is a big deal to people. I like to sleep. Anything before 6am, I consider to be an ungodly hour.  Which is why I always carry a full sized pillow and have developed a special kind of travel narcolepsy that allows me to sleep anywhere at anytime.