hello stranger: stockholm
My eyes laid on the immediate panoramic landscape of Stockholm. It was my first view of the city during daylight and my first legit reactions to the stunning view: a juxtaposition of quiet countryside living and dense city life blanketed in that famous Stockholm earth-tone hue. It was only 5 minutes ago that I looked to the right side of my bed to see another view – pale, white skin hiding under crisp and clear white sheets. This was the polar opposite of a Cayote Ugly moment. This morning, my coffee tasted a little bit different.
I’ve had my eye on this one for a while, that suave and cool bad-boy look matched by years of professional experience put him at the top of my Most Wanted list. The more he pulled away from me, the more I wanted a taste but the more I knew it was not ever going to happen. I settled for being able to be in the same bars as him. I settled for being able to see him in his own little corner.
Our work brought us across borders and into new territories. Before Stockholm, we shared several first time experiences. In Germany, we had sausages and beer. In Denmark, we gorged on Thai food. In Russia, we had sushi (and I had food poisoning afterwards). All this time, we split the bill, saw each other in larger groups and never talked directly to each other. It was only in nighttime-cloaked Stockholm that whatever our ids were suppressing was brought out by shots of tequila.
Everybody else was busy or could not go out. It was both our first times to Stockholm and we weren’t going to spend it cooped up. So, despite the awkwardness between us – we boarded the bus that took us to downtown Stockholm. We walked around, ate dinner, walked around some more, had a couple of Swedish beers, walked around some more and called it a night. On the bus ride back, he steadily held my lower back and pulled me closer to him. Even though the bus was legitimately full, I had to look away to hide my stupid-teenager-ear-to-ear smile. I knew I looked ridiculous and gave myself a mental kick in the groin to get rid of that smile.
Nightcaps were in order and I’ve forgotten who asked who but drinking across each other from a small table became drinking next to each other at the bar. Laughing and yelling at each other’s stories became a hold to the knee and a graze of the forearm. Nonchalant commentary on whatever was showing on the bar TV turned into silence – the kind of silence that was a mental duel. Who was going to say it first? We both had the same idea. We both knew what the other was thinking and we both know what the next plot point would be. I guess I selectively blocked it out of my subconscious but before you know it, we slipped out of the noisy bar and walked back to my room in the most casual and civilized manner.
I grip unto my blue plastic coffee mug as I look out from my office window with a spectacular view of Stockholm. My lips in a constant forced purse as my mind replayed thoughts that reflected not only my utter disbelief in what had just happened but also my playful naughtiness in expectation of what will continue to happen in the next few weeks, hopefully.
The day went on as it should, as it always have and as it will for the next few weeks but with one significant difference. That same night, a knock came to my door at exactly 9:00pm. I open it and see him holding a couple of plates with a couple of burgers and a mound of French fries. This was going to be a loooong night.
The Magazine Editor
photo credits (1st from top) by cdni.condenast.co.uk (2nd) by aswetravel.com