I like Sweden! I like how nonchalantly the people here carry themselves and how the cold air fakes my inner Texan into thinking it’s Christmas time. The fruit-colored buildings, built high and skinny, make alleys that tightly stretch upwards and longwards. Water– water is everywhere. Stockholm’s a city whose many islands are infiltrated by channels and stitched together by bridges.
As I write this I’m standing under the awning of a cafe closed for the night and I’m watching people walk the streets of Gamla Stan, or Old Town Stockholm. I’m listening to two street performers sing, loud and out of pitch, enjoying the company of each other. I’m wearing a skirt and my bare legs are reminding me that the wind is picking up but I’m so content.
Sweden’s summer weather is comparable to Texas’ winters. 60’s Fahrenheit and fluffy scrambled egg clouds all jumbled with sunshine. It’s crisp and a bit sprinkly at times and overall, effortlessly enjoyable. A lot of our time was spent walking the streets of Södermalm- a neighborhood of Stockholm that sports native Swedes populating local boutiques and cafes of different nationalities and gourmet coffee shops. So charming, and so untarnished from lack of tourists.
Skeppsbar, a local bar turned impromptu-dance-club (delegated by whichever nightly drinkers it hosts), was right down the street from our hostel. We were so intrigued, our first night in Stockholm, as we watched unconcerned Swedes of all ages liberally groove to Swedish pop. Limbs were flying and feet were jumping and the way these people danced, as if they were convinced the DJ would be leaving soon, painted an emancipating and envious scene that I look forward to inwardly treasuring for duller times to come. There was something about being wholly submerged in their present tense, as they moved about completely without concern for the way others might be watching them. The liberation of Skeppsbar’s customers will happily serve as my scapegoat the next time I want to act a fool for the sake of enjoying myself.
Sweden gave me a lot to think about regarding my photography and the lines I’ve drawn for myself when shooting. For the first time I’m considering the sport of photography as a truly delicate medium through which art and conceptualism possess the ability to pass through. I’ve always considered photography’s foremost duty is to further history, accurately and unregretfully. I forget totally that art can be created through it. Not recreated or imitated, but born. New. Unknown. That scares and excites me equally- maybe it’s my obligation, as someone who thinks and feels and desires, to further the ideas in my head that influence and challenge me to others- all through this medium. In Stockholm I became fantastically aware of how capable I could be to create anything I want through photography. To further my passions, and motives, and personal, messy art– all things that comfortably dwell in my head but aren’t tangibly captured by a camera. I’ve been subconsciously assuming I would begin creating more conceptually and artistically as I began to gain more traction in my field and became solidified in my capabilities. That’s such narrow-minded thinking though, because how will I ever grow, in any aspect or venture, if I wait until I’m accomplished or sure of what I’m able to do? I’ve enjoyed challenging my own way of thinking the past four days in Stockholm.
One of the evenings in Sweden, my favorite evening there, I walked alone to Monteliusvagen, a lookout spot above Stockholm to watch the sun set behind the ancient city. The air was chilled by an earlier shower and scattered benches hosted couples and other individuals in front of a fence donning the locks of optimistic lovers. I curled into a ball at the end of one bench, asked a trio of young Swedish girls if I could borrow a pen, and watched the sun disappear behind Stockholm. In my journal I wrote freely. Dreams, recaps, drawings. The sun was slow to set, like a tree not yet ready to let go of its fruit. Pink and yellow clouds patiently trailed behind the departing sun. I felt so sure that that exact bench, on that hill in Stockholm, was exactly where I was supposed to be in that moment in time.
And for now, onto Vienna, Austria.