Interlude of nostalgia

And then I was going to write about the rest of the weekend and all that it entailed, but things came between, so that will have to wait.

Natalie floating

Natalie floating through Australia

This morning, out of the blue, I received a Skype call from Natalie, my sunshine pal and close friend who is currently having the time of her life on the other side of the world. She packed up and left for Australia, ditching schedules and deadlines and musts, and is now traversing that vast continent while piecing herself together like a great big jigsaw puzzle with the most perfect blueprint. I’m so happy for her, it sounds so amazing when she describes the adventures they face every day, the bright stars at night; and over the phone I could hear the raging winds along the Adelaide coast.

Naturally, it reminded me of my own travel days. They began at age 14, when I broke out of my sheltered Swedish childhood and flew to Zambia to visit Karin and see where exactly my cousin-slash-best-friend was growing up. What a contrast; what an eye-opener! It was all savannahs and fireflies and roaring waterfalls, shy lions and graceful impalas, friendly market traders and fresh watermelons. Some of the memories are still crystal clear in my mind, and there are not enough words to describe the magic of it. That’s when I realised how much world there is to experience.

Then at 23, I left everything behind and spent the most enchanting five months in Africa and South America, where I simply had to turn and face myself, and I cracked open like a rock to expose a geode of glinting crystals. Every day was an adventure, a painful one at times, but an adventure nonetheless, and that’s how I always wanted life to be. I hula-hooped on São Paulo’s rooftops, was robbed in the streets of Mendoza, saw my reflection in the great Bolivian salt desert, danced around a beach fire under the Isla Grande moonlight, and flew with shamans in Rurrenabaque – oh, my love affair with Rurre… I spent many lazy afternoons there in the depths of the Bolivian jungle, swaying in a hammock next to Río Beni that floated quietly through the unassuming village, while writing in my journal or playing some soft and melanchonic tunes on my xaphoon, and life was so easy.

Rurre 3

Our Rurrenabaque paradise

I spent wild nights in Rio de Janeiro, long and lonely nights on islands and in mountain hamlets, played pool with bewildered villagers who had never before seen a gringa, fished for piranhas in the jungle, got homesick in the desert, and most of all I remember the long busrides where I could take a moment to relax and reflect, and let it all sink in while watching the ever-changing landscape fly past.

I went from a clueless child who had been scared to go to town on her own, to a guitar-carrying, Spanish-speaking, easy-going backpacker wandering the selva alone, occasionally exchanging words with an inquisitive local, or just incredulously drinking in the freedom and beauty and perfection.

bus in peru

On a bus through the Peruvian mountains

A few years later I went again, this time with Mike, and it was marvellous to breathe in the sandy, smoky air of Lima once again, to feel the heat from the ground seeping in through my Havaíanas. To get on a bus and not know where we would end up. To amble breathless (altitude!) up and down the cobbled streets of Cusco, to once again stand on top of Machu Picchu, nothing but green peaks and clouds all around. To sleep in threadbare hostel beds and make friends from all over the world. To always be moving.

Natalie’s call, her stories and photos, sent me into a fit of nostalgia. I love the memories so much, and I also love my life now, writing and learning and hopefully building a career of sorts, and redecorating our lovely flat and making it our home. But sometimes my tummy aches for times past, and then I really do miss that feeling of the wind in my hair and the endless road ahead.

machu picchu 2

On top of the world

 

 

The weekend begins

Friday night I was buzzing all the way to town, literally grinning and skipping my way down Gray’s Inn Road towards the arcade dive bar PimpShuei, where the legendary Clinton Cawood was celebrating his birthday:

clinton cawoodClint is a living legend, because he is a machine of parties and love. There are no limits to whom he can love and what he can drink. Eight years ago he walked into the bar where I was working and my life in London completely changed. And now he has the most amazing other half, Jeanne who is deliciously care-taking and plan-making and always glows with beauty:

jeanne kajsa debi

We danced and drank and shouted storied that could only be half-understood over the noise, and I felt free and alive and bubbly with joy and love for all these people.

“And disappear again into a summer’s bliss,
Of staying out and sleeping in and getting drunk with my friends”

Then Veronica and Markus came with their suitcases straight from Gatwick to the basement technicolor dunka-dunka madness.

veronica markus

veronica levinBetween arcade games and cigarette breaks, Elvis and Bruce Lee, catching up with old friends and making new ones, at some point the birthday boy got behind the bar and suddenly the price for tequila was no longer £5 but a bared chest, so shirts flew off and sticky liquor was poured straight into people’s faces.bar shotsAnd then everyone looked like this:friends

good friends

IMG

tequila face

friends

Much too early the night wore off and people dispersed, and Mike and I grabbed our two Swedish guests and stumbled our way to a hotdog place. Clinton’s generous tequila servings had made Mike rather floppy and when waiting for his hotdog he looked like this:
cute mike

What an adorable creature.

Then Uber came and took us all the way home (I love taxis, what an amazing concept), and in the midst of the DIY chaos we settled down for a Gammeldansk nightcap before gratefully crashing into bed, saving some energy for the rest of the big weekend.

 

Free

Ikajsa can see now how old and deeply ingrained patterns are still affecting my life. Which means I can now break free from them. It’s already starting, and it feels exciting! Imagine a life with less worrying and self-enforced responsibilities that have nothing to do with me, really; an easy existence where I can float along with life’s unpredictable currents and swim towards the sweeter waters, and just be and do what I want.

I’ve been polyfilling and sandpapering and taping and painting and untaping, climbing up and down the stepladder until I got dizzy, and now the walls are fresh and clean and bright, perfectly in line with the new beginnings of 2015. Then I cleaned myself up, and now I’m in a pretty dress with a flowy skirt, and there’s glitter on my eyelashes that makes everything sparkle. Everything is happening at once and I’m not even worried, just excited. I just don my Vans and hit the streets, smile at people, chat with shopkeepers, a mini wine bottle in my pocket for the train ride. The city is glittering and beckoning and there’s a freeing sense that everything will be fine, and anything can happen.

 

Changes in the skyline

These days are pigeon feeding and weekly planning, health board activities and dodged gym sessions, hoarding then decluttering, filling in holes and drilling new ones and painting over them.  In between, I sit down to try and find the centre of myself, because if I want to be a great writer I must.  There are so many copycats and so few genuine voices.  All my life, I’ve let everyone else’s voice scream so loud in my head that my own is all but silenced.  How can I identify it through the noise?  It changes, too.  Like the seasons or the tides, it’s never consistent, and its fluidity makes it hard to grasp and channel.  Each new impression or suggestion brings a new flow and inevitably changes the direction.

The London skyline has changed so much since I moved here ten years ago.  I remember when the Gherkin (“the dildo” as we knew it back then) was the most prominent building in the City, rising proud and round from a low-rise, unassuming city.  Now it’s been swallowed up by a forest of skinny skyscrapers, and overshadowed by the aggressive Shard which sits on top of the vaults where we once danced from dusk till dawn and caught the bus home in the scarlet light of morning, against the backdrop of Tower Bridge casting its reflection in the choppy waters of the Thames.

But now the vaults are closed and life is something else.  I suppose ten years is a long time.  Ten years ago I was an entirely different person, so it would make sense if the city, too, has changed.  Hopefully when the old makes way for the new we don’t lose too much of who we were.

It’s still cold and grey and I stay in with my DIY and podcasts, and hold out for springtime and new adventures.  “April, come she will…”

kajsa-city

Ambles and frolics

Last weekend Mike and I went for a long walk in surprising 16 degree sunshine.  Life went in a blink from drizzly winter’s end to blazing summertime, with exuberant dogs splashing on the riverbanks, posh people gathering over fro-yos and bottles of Pinot in Richmond, black-haired teenagers smoking weed and kissing on benches, and rustic riverboats covered in flower pots and drying laundry floating past, leaving behind a scent trail of barbecues and beers.  I climbed onto a seemingly abandoned wreck and immediately got told off by a river hobo.  We walked for five hours from Kingston to Barnes, and finished with a golden and well-deserved pint after the sun had set over Kew Gardens.  Turns out the Thames is a hella lot longer than one might think.

IMG_3417rsIMG_3463rslondon dogIMG_3632rsMike upon Thames IMG_3623rs IMG_3667rs

Though I’m fairly certain I would be a happier, more confident person if I lived in a sunnier country, I could never be without the seasons.  I’d love to always be skipping around in flowy dresses and flip-flops, but there is nothing quite like the relief of spring and people flocking outside to soak up the long-awaited rays.

Now the cloud cover is back, and I’m snuggled up on the sofa with Mike and coffee and fairy lights.  Mike practices Swedish (“kvinnan läser tidningen … flickorna dricker mjölk”) while I write.  There’s nothing I love more than the sound of a clicking keyboard, effortlessly shaping thoughts into words.  I just wish I could find a direct link to the creative muse, so that I could open the download stream and get into flow at will.  My book seems to be trapped in a pressure cooker and I’m scared to remove the lid, so instead I read others’ stories to see if I can replenish my creative dam and avoid stagnation.  As a clinical people-pleaser, it’s a significant effort to wash away projections and assumptions and just write how I want it to read.  “Gotta get to the center… Run off with a dancer…”

Otherwise I mostly spend my days in useful writing sessions and inevitable pint o’clocks with Zoe at Dial Arch, and having a writing companion is immensely helpful.  We read and review each other’s work, vent our frustrations, share stories and ideas, and justify each other’s drinking.  What fortunate timing.

Her Majesty Fleur

Yesterday I found Fleur among my tarot cards,  in the guise of the Queen of Wands.  The cards told me I have the potential of this venerable lady within me, and that she is not yet being fully channeled due to fear, anxiety and self-doubt getting in the way.  My eyes widened as I read the properties of the Wand Queen – creative, inspirational, authentic, independent:

queen-of-wandsThe Queen of Wands is the dominant feminine energy of the element of Fire … focused on her desires, intending to get what she wants … can sustain your own creative vision, even in the face of adversity … independent … highly energetic and leads a busy and active life … radiates health and vitality and has an inner vibrancy that fills her with ongoing energy and inspiration … actively inspires others … asks you to be bold and courageous in your undertakings and actions … highly optimistic, confident … have an ability to express your passions with great authenticity and courage … creates a powerful first impression and is a likeable individual who makes friends easily by being sweet, warm and charming.”

(Source: Biddy Tarot)

I had been planning to describe Fleur in a blog post one day, but no need – she is this Queen!  And I clearly have the seed of her within me.  Another card was drawn to clarify how exactly I am to overcome the fears that stand in my way, and the Moon popped up to tell me to shine a light on my shadow self, according to the Jung school of thought; to become aware of my tendencies to project fear and anxiety, and letting go of these – watching the thinker, as Eckhart Tolle has already advised me.  The Moon says old fears and blocks will surface to be released, and a purging process is underway.  I think she’s right.

In other news, the sun is shining over London and I am on my way out for a Sunday afternoon frolic with Karin and old Irish friends from another lifetime.  My book is still being squeezed and shaped, but to find my authentic voice is proving a bit of a challenge.  Again, it’s about letting go and getting out of the way, not controlling the process but rather allowing it.

Spring is nearly here and I am so excited for another warm season full of fun and adventure.  Fresh scents bring old summer memories to mind – sunsets in parks and midnight mischief, festival shenanigans and random meetings, spontaneous explorations, carefree days and intoxicating nights.  Reflections in still canal water, the cool shade of tall trees, the smell of lager and Jamaican street food, the feeling of a flowing skirt and warm air on my skin; the sense that summer has no end.

Karin and East London canals:

karin by canal rs

Festival nights:

Summerjam

View from enchanting Honor Oak Park:

honor oak park view

Greenwich sunshine with Sarah and Veronica:

in the park

Jamming in Finsbury Park:

finsbury  park

South London ambles with Mike:

mike and kitty rs

London summertime:

London summer

Ain’t life glorious.