Två Månader

West Coast of Ireland

West Coast of Ireland

In exactly two months from now I will have landed at Arlanda Airport, I will have caught the train or bus into the centre of Stockholm, I will have booked into my hotel, I will have had a shower, and I probably will have gone out for a drink. That, or I will be so jet-lagged I will have passed out in a park somewhere.

To be honest, though I’m starting to freak out a bit. Have I planned enough? Have I saved enough? Have I learned enough Swedish to get by in the rural areas outside Stockholm? Have I given enough thought to other parts of my trip, such as the two weeks when I will visit my friend David in France? Should I get my “affairs” into order in case there’s a terrorist attack? These are the questions that are bothering me at the moment.

And why am I doing this trip? And why in particular am I visiting Sweden (and learning Swedish)? Whenever someone asks me that question I always reply it’s the “ABBA Connection”. They don’t seem to want to ask too many questions after that, I’ve noticed.

I’ve been an ABBA fan for over thirty years and that’s led to a certain fascination with Swedish culture. But this is not some bizarre trip where I’ll be waiting outside buildings hoping for a brief glimpse or chance meeting with Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha or Frida.

However, when a colleague asked me the question the other night, I told him that in some ways it was a “mid-life crisis trip”? He seemed, at first, a little surprised by the honesty of my answer. “You’re fine”, he said, “what have you got to be worried about?” And in lots of ways he’s correct. I have a great job, a great circle of friends, a great family, and I’m mostly pretty happy.

There comes a time, however, when you start to wonder if there’s more to life than this. And that’s probably part of the motivation behind this trip: the desire to see what else life might hold. Part of me wonders if I’ll ever come back from this trip. A ridiculous thought in some ways, as I’m only going away for 10 weeks, but it’s possibly because of the symbolism of this trip. I’ve never been one for taking big holidays (mostly 2 weeks at tops, and mostly in Australia).

So even though it’s minor, in some ways, this trip symbolises the next part of my life. And I think friends and colleagues recognise this. In some ways, my life is exactly the same now as it was twenty years ago. And that’s leading to a certain disatisfaction on my part, and a certain grumpiness. More than once I’ve verbalised this, and I’ve had a couple of colleagues ask me recently, straight out, if I intend to return. They’ve both fairly emphatically told me I should, by the way.

But in the midst of this person who has led a fairly regular life for many years, never really rocking the boat, and never really doing anything radical, there’s the dreamer. There’s the bloke who thinks it would be exciting to just go off and do something totally different. So I guess it’s a trip that takes me into the unknown, but which gives me some familiarity. The ultimate answer is out there in två månader.

  1. How exciting though to even have that thought in your head.

    If I had my druthers (and the kids had left home) I’d be living in a little apartment in Todi or some such fabulous little town in Italy.

    Best of luck!

    CB

    PS – Great photo

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  2. With due acknowledgement to Caspar David Friedrich?

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  3. You go find that life, James.

    I know that itchy feet feeling too. And if you don’t come back – GREAT! I’ll visit you wherever you are, when I finally make the decision to throw off my own self-imposed shackles.

    You’re our hero. xx

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  4. I’m a big ABBA fan too James. I saw them live at the old Sydney Showgrounds in 1977. FYI:
    http://www.abba-world.net/phenomenon/tour/tour.htm
    From what I have read you seem to be at a crossroads in your life. Are you hoping to find love whilst travelling?
    I hope you have a great time. How exciting. Maybe you could hire a boat and go out to the island that Agnetha lives on in seclusion. Lots of pics please. :)

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  5. It sounds like an awesome trip! Something different and yet, there’s still enough familiar so that it’s not the “freak me out” thing! I think sometimes we do need an extended break from our “normal” lives – it allows you to look at your life with a degree of perspective and make decisions or even just to mull stuff over. Have a great time mate!!!

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  6. Pic is very “When All Is Said And Done”.
    Were you in the studio and unable to remember the words too?

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  7. Cellobella – little town in Italy (dribbles).

    Marcellous – thanks for the tipoff about the image. How interesting.

    MissAndrea – Aw shucks!

    Denys – I would have loved to have attended in 1977, but was too young and lived too far away unfortunately.

    Monty – thanks mate. And congrats, all seems to be going well for you.

    Graeme – now that you mention it. What was that line again…? “In our lives we have walked some strange and lonely trecks, slightly worn, but dignified and not too old for sex”

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