Abroad & Below: Media and Nature

July 6th
Even though we visited them on the 4th, we had to return to Dagny and Uno’s apartment for another fika with the rest of the family. We met the Wassels and I caught up with Felicia, who has had an adorable son since we last saw her. She remembers us discussing music last time I was here and how she had not known who Ashlee Simpson was. I couldn’t believe she remembered that! During that trip Ashlee Simpson’s CD had just come out and my mom bought it for me before we left for Sweden. We borrowed a cousin’s car that year and I remember making my poor dad listen to that CD over and over again. Boy do I feel bad about it now, sorry dad!

Uno, who is absolutely full of life and humor at age 90, embraced us with tight arms and rushed us over to a plant sitting on their living room table. He began to tell a story very quickly in Swedish, which I did not understand, but I knew it was something special when my dad’s face reacted with honest astonishment. Our family had sent the plant to the Wasseil’s in 2008, when their son Ralph died. Although they have kept it alive and healthy, it has never had any flowers. The day we arrived at their house, it bloomed for the very first time. I’m not superstitious, but I think this spooky coincidence must be a good sign. A good reminder of togetherness and the meaning of spirit.

In Sweden, you can bring your old home videos to the historical association who collect them for their archives and they will transfer them all onto DVD for free. Uno, at his age, was given priority to receive his DVD and had it in time for our arrival. We watched home movies of Sweden from the 1930’s to the birth of my dad, who is Dagny’s nephew. Even there is no sound in the movies, such an amazing story is told. My relatives shine on the screen, beautiful faces and vintage video of times past. Dagny and Uno’s son, Roger, is going to make a copy for us and I will post the beginning of one shot online when I get it. I could watch those videos all day and I feel so fortunate that my family can be viewed and remembered in such a lively way.

We also met up with Daniel and Katarina, who had visited us four years ago. Now with their 2-year-old daughter, Root, they are trying to get Margot to return to California to visit all their favorite sites. Katarina said that they always laugh when they reminisce about their trip, especially with my dad pulling out every stop to get them a picture with the Hollywood Sign. They had a fun trip but above all else, they fell head over heels for In&Out. Daniel even looked into franchising in Sweden but was disappointed with their California exclusivity. Nonetheless, they still say it was their greatest California discovery and already they are planning another trip just for a #2. Hopefully their daughter and Margot’s other son’s daughter, of the same age, will consider their own trip to California down the road too, when I can try to be just as fun as a host as my dad was for them.

We finished the night with a short trip to Gatu Fest, Sundsvall’s biggest event of the year. Similar to Ventura’s County Fair, there were rides and food vendors all around. But with three stages, music was a larger focus here and their impersonations of American singers were so much fun to listen to. Trying to disguise their Swedish accent, sings covered songs by Michael Jackson, The Eagles, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga. Since the festival is four days, tonight was the first and only free night. Bigger names in music, September and Robyn being the only names I recognized, will be arriving tomorrow. Too bad we will be in Stockholm by then, it would be fun to join the town’s Coachella-esque party.