Tuesday, March 14, 2006

last night


Last night there was something about my room that reminded me of staying at my grandparents’. It was the strangest thing. I hadn’t been thinking about them before I went to bed. Then all the sudden my room felt different. The light, the air, the weight of my covers. The upstairs and/or downstairs neighbors’ lights were on, casting a dim light in my dark room. Something about the dim light was so peaceful. The way the meeting of the wall and the ceiling was unclear. Everything soft and gradual. And the rain falling down. And strangely, my sheets and covers even felt like Swedish ones. Sheets and covers always feel a specific way to me in Sweden. It’s like they’re all some uniform weight and texture there, that they are not here. My body feels different under them. I had shaved my legs recently and the smoothness felt different. I felt a bit like a child. Protected and calm, the way I felt at my grandparents’.

Then I started worrying about forgetting all the ways my granparents’ house(s) felt. All the objects and rooms where they lived (in Vallsta, pa Kungsholmen in Stockholm and at Edsatra). And them. Started crying and crying worrying about forgetting. Mormor’s death felt real for the first time really since it happened in December. I guess it’s normal that it can take a while to feel the absence. In between the crying, the peaceful feeling in my room remained.


So many of my likes and dislikes are formed by my childhood experiences of my grandparents’ houses. The strangest things. Old scissors. I remember my grandparents had all these old timey metal scissors at Vallsta. They hung by the old timey stove on pegs. And the scissors followed them in their move to Stockholm and followed my mormor in her move to Edsatra. Other kitchen items I have a fondness for - a carrot peeler, a bread crumb maker, dishes. My favorite fruits are berries. I’m sure this is related to the raspberry, blueberry and wild strawberry picking we did at Vallsta. I love whipped cream, which I’m sure is related to the whipped cream my mormor made. Sure these are all good things and I’d probably like them anyway*, but there’s a certain way in which tasting, seeing these things gives a momentary feeling of wholeness to me or something. It’s not just being sentimental (though I can’t deny I’m terribly sentimental), but it’s related to how I was formed??


I think back to my friends’ houses when I was little and even friends’ houses now. They all have such a specific feel to them. It's neat how everyone's space has its own feeling. And it’s not that I would choose to furnish my house the way my grandparents did. But I still loved the feeling of their house because it felt like them. It was filled with them. I’m sure sights, smells etc. will remind me of them and the feeling in their house, like the way my room reminded me last night. But it’s sad to think I’ll never be able to physically enter their house again, be among only their things, with them.

*I do also like Emser tabletter, which are not very popular among young people. They are considered old lady candies/throat lozenges, but I like them. I remember mormor having them on her nightstand at Vallsta and letting me share her Emser tabletter. Some of my cousins like them too and I bet that’s related to our memories.

14 comments:

amanda said...

this is so moving and beautiful. i know just the feeling you're talking of--the way that you can feel that amazing love of a person through something as 'ordinary' as a fabric texture, or throat lozenge...it can last long after they are no longer with us. Beautiful. Thank you for making me think about this in this moment!

abby said...

Wow-this is such an amazing post....i love the feeling, the tastes, the textures-the emotions. I chewed a certain kind of sugar free gum (made for people with dentures)when i was a child because that is what my grandpa chewed. Thanks for making me remember and think about that. hm...i am going to reread this and think some more...please don't worry about forgetting them. It sounds like you remember the most lovely things...

mary said...

oh kirsten, what a moving post. i can understand your fear of forgetting what it was like at your grandparents', but i really don't think that will happen. it seems to be so much a part of who you are, that you can't really separate the memories from the person. i think just taking the time to think about those small things and writing about them will ensure your memories will always be with you.

i really love what you wrote because you're so right about how different spaces can feel. I also don't think everyone can pick up on that. it takes a special kind of person to pick up on the feelings of different spaces.

(sorry that was so long, you post was just very touching)

Anya said...

I loved this post -- and thank you for sharing your feelings and thought-processes with us... You said you worry about forgetting... Honestly, Kerstin, I don't think you ever could. Those memories and your love are such a strong bond that *I* won't ever forget reading about it. They're with you.

I love that you can imagine exactly what the bedding in Sweden feels like. I can do the same with my memories of Germany... I can feel the covers on me -- the warmth of the flannel duvet cover and the weight of those fluffy down comforters. I always felt like I was inside a warm cloud.
: )

wordybird said...

it's always amazing to me how i can associate a certain smell or slant of light with a particular place. chestnuts roasting in winter transports me back to living in japan when i was 12. i will forever associate the smell of a coal fire with autumn in england. and there is a particular quality of sunlight that i also associate with being in england. it just makes my heart ache.

Siri said...

So heartfelt, your descriptions. You have these memories deep within your being.
I remember the down filled bed and covers at my Bestemor's farmhouse in Norway and looking out the window across the fields during the long twilit (twilight?) nights of summer. Now, I can't imagine living without a feather bed and down comforter.
We picked wild strawberries in the woods out behind the fields there, blueberries at the cabin up in the hills, and cloudberries up in the northern parts of the country. Now, picking berries (and knitting, of course) is probably my all-time favorite thing to do. It's when I am at my most happiest.
These things never leave you.

k. cooper said...

this is so beautiful! thanks so much for sharing it.

J said...

beautiful.

button said...

that's a lovely post, I enjoyed hearing your thoughts (I love that feeling of reliving something from the past) ... :)

mav said...

i find myself nodding and understanding all that you are saying here. i know that feeling and i fear, almost daily, that i will forget the past that has made me who i am {much of which has to do with my grandparents}. what a very moving piece you have written here. raw emotion. thank you for sharing this. i send hugs, maria

tania said...

what a beautiful post- like poetry.
houses are such a big deal to me too, i still dream about my childhood home regularly- miss it so!
this post gave me that calmness feeling too, like home-
xox

tea said...

Those summers at grandparents place were the best. I feel a bit sad now that I´m all grown up, and those summers are gone, and so are my grandparents...

Alicia said...

Lovely piece. Thank you.

Terese said...

Så himla rörande. Det är en av mina största rädslor också, att glömma. Ypperligt att du skriver ner, och delar med. Tack för det.