I am walking down Gotagand in Stockholm, Sweden, laughing because I’ve just realized that the name of the café I’m headed to translates to “Mugs” in English. Mugs was a café in Ft. Collins, where I went to school, where I drank so-so chai lattes and met with my Italian club. For some reason, I am finding this terribly funny as I walk downhill to the crowded café, my hands swinging lightly by my sides.
I finally feel like the master of my own fate (thanks for your borrowed eloquence, Thoreau). I have finally found the space in my heart where it feels permissible for me to take my trip as my own and to make it exactly what I want. It was pointed out to me that I’ve been acting as if this trip is happening to me, and that’s not a pleasant thought. So, a change of heart has occurred.
After the Filo/CouchSurfing disaster, I felt awful. I seriously contemplated coming home. I’d just had it. I was spending time and money and having a really, truly awful time. I was willing to fork over the $250 to come home. It could be worth it.
But, as I wandered the Glyptotek Museum in Copenhagen, I remembered something. I wanted to be good at traveling alone. I wanted to be the kind of person who could travel alone and enjoy it; someone who could flourish, even. And suddenly, going home early vanished as an option.
Immediately following that realization, this popped into my head: it’s up to me to make this trip mine. So I have a lot of responsibility, and instead of dreading and hating it, I can view it as an opportunity.
“What can I do to make today great?” There are an infinite number of possibilities, and they all revolve around what I want. That is a beautiful place to find one’s self.
And so, this afternoon I arrived in Stockholm. I said the name out loud a few times as I wandered the streets bathed in the queer winter light, making the whole town appear as if it were a sound stage.
I am traveling to places whose names have only been place cards for my imagination. I am seeing the steeples and museums of long-thought-of places, places that I could not begin to understand when I was younger. These places—Stockholm included—are the exotic dreams and mysteries from my childhood, like francanscence and mihr and other worldly things. How can a six-year old comprehend Scandinavia? They can’t. But a 23-year old woman can, and she can do it well.
So I’m trying.
Today, so far, I’ve gone to the grocery store three times, bought the same book twice and returned one because I found it for much less at another store, and battled the twilight blues I always seem to get by eating my dinner in the presence of two nice, gay and fashionable men from Hamburg. This is what I wanted my day to be. And it was and it was mine, the way a warm penny, long forgotten, is mine in my pocket.
My hands tingle inside my gloves, and my head misses my hat that I’ve left on my bed back at the hostel. I see Swedes, beautiful blonde people, pass by me, on their way to dinner, to home, to something else. Music seeps out of cracked doors like steam and warms my pace a little. There is a definite bounce in my step, and my laughter about Café Muggen adds a beautiful note to the pace of the falling evening. I am here.